Lessons from Friends / by Bill Frakes

Joe McNally never fails to make me appreciate his wit, generosity, talent, and most of all his work ethic.

Early in my career, I did a particularly grueling portrait shoot with a recalcitrant long jumper who was willing to give us two jumps and 10 minutes of his time. My assistant and I had trucked in about a ton of sand, built a scaffold platform for a high angle, erected a 16' x 16' scrim*, set up two 10K lights balanced for tungsten so we could make the sky deep blue in the middle of the day, positioned eight remote cameras and spent two hours doing lighting tests. All told we spent a combined 30 hours in preparation for 3 seconds of actual shooting time.
SI's Director of Photography Heinz Kluetmeier looked at the take, and said "It's very good. If I had hired Joe McNally for this he would have really worked it -- for sure he would have buried a camera in the sand too."
Lesson learned.
* Erecting a 16' x 16' scrim is no easy feat in and of itself. Columbus came across the ocean with less sail power.