Joe McNally is an American photographer who has been shooting for the National Geographic Society since 1987 and internationally acclaimed for his work. McNally was born in 27 July 1952 in Montclair, New Jersey. He received his bachelor's and graduate degrees from the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. He is based out of New York City and resides in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
Between 1994 and 1998, McNally was a staff photographer for LIFE magazine. After the September 11 attack, McNally produced a series titled Faces of Ground Zero – Portraits of the Heroes of September 11th. It was a collection of 246 colossal Polaroid portrait photographed near Ground Zero in the Moby C Studio. In 2002, many of these photos were exhibited in seven cities. This work was printed by LIFE magazine, that helped raise around 2 million dollars for the relief efforts of the twin tower tragedy.
For 20 years, Joe McNally has contributed to the well-known magazine, National Geographic. For this publication, the photographer produced a cover story of 32 pages, called The Future of Flying which was published in 2003. It was a tribute to the centenary observance of the flight of Wright Brothers. The cover proved to be very popular and was the finalist of National Magazine Award. He has also shot images of celebrities and photos with a news and sports genre under the magazine’s umbrella.
McNally began visiting China in 1980s and each time he reintroduced himself to the technologically growing and fascinating place with a gleaming history.
Apart from this, McNally has created cover stories for Time magazine, Geo, Newsweek, New York, LIFE, Business Week, Men’s Journal and Sports Illustrated. His advertising and promotional work include campaigns for Sony, Nikon, FedEx, General Electric, Adidas, WildLIFE Conservation Society, American Ballet Theatre, Epson, Kelby Media Group, MetLife and Land’s End.
So far, among his other books are, The Moment It Clicks, 2008 – award winning and critically commended; The Hotshoe Diaries, 2009 – it was in the top ten list of Amazon’s best sellers; and Sketching Light, 2011 – another anticipated book.
Joe McNally is internationally notorious for producing logistically and technically intricate projects with proficient use of light and color. He has done studio work to big productions and has shot conceptual images to aerial photos.
McNally’s career has spanned 30 years including assignments in more than 50 countries. American Photo listed him as one of the 100 most significant people in Photography. The magazine appraised him as an exceptionally multi-talented contemporary photojournalist. He has been the Nikon Legend Behind the Lens and also an honorary affiliate of Kodak PDN Legends Online. In 2010, he was voted among the 30 most influential photographers of the decade by the Photo District News survey. He won the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for The Panorama of War, a LIFE magazine coverage. In addition, Joe McNally has been honored many times by POY, Communication Arts, Graphis, and The World Press Photo Foundation.
According to him, it is like walking on a tightrope when one is a photographer – sometimes you need to thrust yourself to perform and get to work and at other times the trepidation of failure can be a powerful motivator. It is then crucial to somehow find your motivation and keep on going even if your creativity is lost for a while.
Photography is all about having confidence in everything you do and you are. This is perhaps how great photographers like McNally keep producing brilliant works. The photographer in an interview said that a fine photographer is a fine storyteller. The images should express the story.