Light, Shadow and Motion, with Joe McNally

Join the legendary Joe McNally on the set with professional dancers as he teaches you how to respond to the grace and elegance of the dancers with an equally graceful light.

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.

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Course Lessons:

Lesson 1: Introduction (Duration 10:42)

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.

Lesson 2: Adding Another Light (Duration 08:25)

Another light adds depth, volume, and dimension to the photograph.

Lesson 3: Working with Speedlights (Duration 06:52)

Move from big flash photography to small flash photography; from Ranger heads to speedlights.

Lesson 4: Playtime with Dancers in the Air (Duration 03:03)

We're playing in a graphic space with dancers in the air.

Lesson 5: Using a Black Set (Duration 04:42)

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.

Lesson 6: Cross Light (Duration 10:54)

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.

Lesson 7: A New Day (Duration 03:17)

A new day, new dancers, and a new lighting set up to create a total white background.

Lesson 8: Talking with the Talent (Duration 03:59)

Learning to communicate with your talent is an integral step before the shooting starts.

Lesson 9: The Investigative Process (Duration 08:41)

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.

Lesson 10: Change in Impact of Light (Duration 02:34)

Joe changes up the lighting set up to achieve a shorter flash duration to stop motion more crisply.

Lesson 11: A Closer Look (Duration 03:16)

Take a once around the studio and take a closer look at what each light is doing.

Lesson 12: A Big Box of Light (Duration 02:15)

The lighting, the background, and the floor combine to create a big box of light.

Lesson 13: You Just Keep Adjusting (Duration 06:31)

Every time the talent does something, it opens the door to something else. Your job is not to miss it.

Lesson 14: Wrapping Up (Duration 08:07)

Joe wraps up the second day of shooting with an extensive review of the lighting and camera settings used on the shoot.

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…


  1. WOW!!! 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!!!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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!!!!

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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,

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