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‘The Moment it Clicks’ Mini-Review

Moment it ClicksI read the Strobist review. I read the reviews at

Originally I tried to buy the book at Barnes and Noble. They had one in stock. For $54.99. Same at Borders. Sorry, but there are very few books (paperback no less) worth more than $50. sells it for $35.

The book - via the subtitle - promises to give you "photography secrets from one of the world's top shooters." In that regard, it's pretty much a failure. There are very few "secrets" in the book.

However, if you substitute "amusing stories and some information on where a famous photographer put the lights he used" for "secrets," you get a fairly accurate description of the book. And I mean that in a good way.

Some of the complains arise from this "lack of secrets," but many of the negative reviews at Amazon deal with the fact that Joe has a lot of equipment handy, is given permission to shoot famous people in exclusive, never-before-seen locations, and has a team of stylists, assistants, etc.

That's all true, but I didn't feel it detracted from the photos. Joe quickly explains his lighting, and does so in a way that's not condescending, but aside from the number and variety of his lights, it's nothing amazing. Most of the time, he simply uses off-camera flash or strobes, and simple props like bed sheets as diffusers or reflectors. I could do that. You could do that.

The locations and the stars, sure - that's going to be tough. But so what? Most of the locations aren't, and in fact a good portion of the people aren't famous either. Regular people can be lit the same way as Barry Manilow, after all, if it's appropriate.

Most of Joe's shots include people, so if you're a landscape photographer or an architectural, abstract, or wildlife photographer, you're probably not going to get as much from Joe as others, but even the general lessons still apply. Joe keeps each "section" short - it's one photo and one page of back story. The lighting setup is usually confined to a paragraph or even a sentence. The stories are entertaining, enlightening, and interesting. The book reads as though you're flipping through a photographer's "hits," and he's speaking for a minute about each one. There's something to be learned or gained on every page, and an hour or two with Joe McNally would certainly cost more than $35.

This book is not the holy grail of photography, but then again no book could be. The book is inspirational and insightful, and I recommend picking up a copy of "The Moment It Clicks" if you're in need of a little of either (and who isn't?).

Please post your TMiC thoughts below.

2 Responses to "‘The Moment it Clicks’ Mini-Review"

  1. I agree completely. I bought the book based on a lot of hype (mostly Scott Kelby - should have been alarm bell #1). My thought was if you had the gear to replicate his shots, then he wasn't telling you anything new.

    Some interesting stories, no doubt, but as a beginner, there wasn't a lot there to help my photography. Others' milage may vary...

    1. I agree with you wholeheartedly that there was NOT a lot of helpful info such as f stops, iso settings and shutter speeds regarding the pics in the book.

      Fortunately, I got the book at my local library and am not out 54.99, which I feel is ludicrous.

      Scott Kelby should have been more up front in his promotion of this book.

      In summary, I certainly did obtain some helpful info but not to the tune of 54.99.