The Moment It Clicks, Joe McNallySpencer and Templar gave me The Moment It Clicks as a Christmas present. Joe McNally has been a professional photographer for decades. This book is part coffee-table book and part text book. He deconstructs various photographs into lessons learned, technical explanations and human anecdotes. This thoughtful gift is as beautiful as it is insightful. The vast majority of McNally’s thoughts and examples are about light — finding it, seeing it, wrangling it to submission that you can use it to complete your particular vision. Each of these lessons are marked with a simple declarative sentence and then explored in detail.

Some of the concepts McNally distills to one succinct sentence:

  • Pay attention to the small pictures
  • Don’t pack up until you leave
  • Get your hands on your subjects
  • Don’t light all of it
  • Make light available
  • Think like a comic book
  • Stand in front of more interesting stuff
  • Always something to bounce light off of
  • It’s gotta speak for itself

McNally reminded me that the word photography comes from the combination of the Greek words φώς (phos) and γραφίς (graphis). He transliterates this to mean: writing with light. I love that idea.