Light, Shadow and Motion By Joe McNally

1 hr 22 min
Difficulty Difficulty Difficulty

This class is all about matching a light to a move, where you start out with the set as an empty box that you fill with your creativity and imagination. As the dancers work through different moves Joe shows you how to light them with both studio strobes and speedlights to achieve a variety of looks, all the while sharing the tips, techniques, and tricks he’s learned over his impressive 30 year career.

Video transcripts available with a subscription.

Join Joe on location as he introduces the class, discusses goals with the talent, and jumps right into things using a strong overhead dramatic light and builds out from there.
Another light adds depth, volume, and dimension to the photograph.
Move from big flash photography to small flash photography; from Ranger heads to speedlights.
We're playing in a graphic space with dancers in the air.
Changing up the set to go from a white background to black, and putting a diffusion panel in front of the light source transforms into a beauty shoot.
Wrap up the first day with one final shoot. Set up a cross light pattern with two speedlights allows them to do double duty as a main light and a backlight.
A new day, new dancers, and a new lighting set up to create a total white background.
Learning to communicate with your talent is an integral step before the shooting starts.
After creating the space and communicating with the talent, it is time to start shooting to see what works and what needs to be adjusted.
Joe changes up the lighting set up to achieve a shorter flash duration to stop motion more crisply.
Take a once around the studio and take a closer look at what each light is doing.
The lighting, the background, and the floor combine to create a big box of light.
Every time the talent does something, it opens the door to something else. Your job is not to miss it.
Joe wraps up the second day of shooting with an extensive review of the lighting and camera settings used on the shoot.
Profile photo of Joe McNally

Meet your instructor

Joe McNally


Joe McNally is an internationally acclaimed photographer whose career has spanned 30 years and included assignments in over 50 countries. He has shot cover stories for TIME, Newsweek, Fortune, New York, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, and Men's Journal. He has been at various times in his career a contract photog...

Joe's Courses


Join the Discussion
  1. Profile photo of Vincent Gerald Vincent Gerald

    Another superb learning experience. A photographer who empowers and inspires you to explore, take risks and thoroughly enjoy the whole experience.

  2. Profile photo of pmsswim pmsswim

    I’m happy for opportunity to study w/ Joe Mc. very creative w/ lighting. Like the emphasis on speedlights (small flash). helps me work out future shots. thanks,

  3. Profile photo of

    I really love learning about how to use lighting. I don’t think I’ll ever get to do it, but it’s fun to watch how it’s done. Joe is a master of his field and explains everything in detail. Thank you. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  4. Profile photo of Speller Speller

    This is simply a beautiful course, enjoyed all aspects of it. It was quite complex – but made simple. Liked the step by step approach involving a lot of technique – in manageable delivery. Great to watch – and think I may revisit some of these scenes.
    Fab! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  5. Profile photo of pedrojschmitt pedrojschmitt

    I enjoy so much how Joe analyses the ambient and nuances of light, no matter the ambient. And what a nice and delightful results. The dancers are fantastic! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  6. Profile photo of jmacino jmacino

    Kudos to Joe McNally and Kelbytraining. Joe is the best ‘trainer’ in Kelby’s group of instructors, and makes watching/learning enjoyable. The revised training package with the 360p option has made the series once again viewable to us with slow speed connections. I tried watching about 5 minutes of a yealy subscription 2 years ago. That was about the actual amount of video that came through in 6-7 second increments. It was so bad, I dropped the KT last year. I’ve decided to return to KT now that they finally (I hope) straightened this out. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  7. Profile photo of Gert-Jan Mes Gert-Jan Mes

    Incredible, love his lessons. He’s funny and fascinating. Great job. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  8. Profile photo of AussieInLondonUK AussieInLondonUK

    Great course. Learned a hell of a lot. I am shooting Nikon D4 with 3 x SB910’s commanded by Pocketwizards and the AC3 unit that can adjust +or – 3 stops on each channel. I use a Sekonic light meter with the new adapted Nikon D4 sync internal. Stands, Umbrella sets, Softboxl, reflectors and, of course a backdrop when needed.

    I would recommend this course in a heartbeat. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  9. Profile photo of Susan Lipman Susan Lipman

    totally amazing course. the only thing that would be an improvement is in the last vid to show every final shot as joe described what he did. you did it for some but to see all final shot along with his descriptions of flash placement etc would really bring it all home.
    Kelby and McNally Rocks!!!! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  10. Profile photo of kfmdesigns kfmdesigns

    Mr McNally, you are the man! love the use of speedlights and and large light sources. I went to a workshop in phoenix with you a few years back and you continue to get better like fine wine lol.

    I am a canon shooter and picked up the STE3 RT along with the 600EX RT in march and I also love that system.

    Thank you for putting more tools in my toolbox.

    Job well done. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  11. Profile photo of Sundra Tanakoh Sundra Tanakoh

    There are no words that I know that can adequately describe Mr. Photon. Joe is more than a master, he is, a National Treasure. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  12. Profile photo of Jonathan Jonathan

    Absolutely brilliant. One of the most informative & constructive tutorials I’ve watched, but then I am heading out on the dance photography path. Lots of cool stuff to use on my next shoot, ready now for the 2nd class. I’m also a huge fan of Joe’s work. Really nice results.

    A big thanks to all involved & for sharing the knowledge. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  13. Profile photo of Robinson Acosta Robinson Acosta

    As always, another fantastic course from Master McNally. What an amazing photographer and teacher of this craft you are, Joe. Bravo! And thank you! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  14. Profile photo of crash8130 crash8130

    This course is just insane. Love it. Joe McNally for the WIN! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  15. Profile photo of wmachuca wmachuca

    Joe is such a great teacher. The way he thinks and see’s is just amazing. His ability to capture and tell the story is so unbelievable. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us mere mortals. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  16. Profile photo of ranger9 ranger9

    I guess I’m a bit disappointed. I’m interested in dance, have tried to photograph dancers before, and would like to get better at it — but this course didn’t really tell me anything new. Too much talk about lighting gear… not enough about conceptualizing the shot, interacting with the dancers, and evaluating the results. And the images he was producing seemed very generic. I guess it would be a good overview for someone who has never tried to photograph dancers before, but I was hoping for more than that. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  17. Profile photo of simonalle simonalle

    Love this class. The format, with Joe taking his shots and we see his process from the side looking at his laptop and monitor, really works well. It feels like I am standing next to him while he is working. The editing and transitions are great in the first half of the class, but once we get to the section “A new day” it seems choppy in editing. I can really tell the difference between video shot and edited in the last year or so as opposed to a few years ago. The flow is smoother and not a contextual leap from segment to segment. The only thing I would add is that when Joe says ‘we talked about V-cuts previously’ and it’s not in this video, maybe you should add a text comment to say where to find that information.

    Great video. Thanks. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  18. Profile photo of John Perkins John Perkins

    HA! “Everyone reads a newspaper…” I wish it were still the case. As always, great class. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  19. Profile photo of Jyri Nyberg Jyri Nyberg

    Thank you Joe for showing how to do this with speedlights. I’m 28 years old and i had to retire from my previous work due to spastic hemiparesis. As you can imagine 28 year old retired doesn’t have tons of money. Photography is only thing that keeps me moving these days and it’s great to see how to work with low budget. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  20. Profile photo of DaCooper DaCooper

    Great videos. I wouldn’t mind seeing the final stills from Joe’s camera in the wrap up portion to review his final picks. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  21. Profile photo of

    Joe McNally does it once again! Bravo! It is another great class by Joe McNally! Watched every segment in a row. Loved it. Great pictures. Thank you for sharing your amazing craft. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  22. Profile photo of Doug Dillon Doug Dillon

    WOW!!!…….as usual, Joe knocks it out of the ball park. He sees the little things that make such a difference in a final piece of work. He’s truly a light magician! (or could be called a light sculptor). Joe is amazing!!! He has such a touch with the camera, lights, crew, and most of all with his subjects. He shows so much respect to everyone involved and yet can keep things light and joke around. I’ve watch so many of Joe’s videos (and have bought all his books and DVD’s he’s put out). I so respect his talent. Thank you Joe for showing me some more ideas and ways to get things. And my hat is off to the grip crew who makes things happen and to all the talent (those dancers are all so talented). Thanks so much Kelby Training for providing such quality. Simply the best!!! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  23. Profile photo of joeligammari joeligammari

    Joe is the best! Great lessons, great photographer, excellent teacher! —- Yes, please post my feedback

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