Joe McNally Gets High – Really High

In case you haven’t seen this video yet, have a watch. Some behind-the-scenes (and on-scenes) action as Joe McNally prepares to climb,, then does climb, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

Pretty incredible.

I love Joe’s axiom, even after all these years – Trying to get his camera in a new place. He’s been saying that for the nearly 14 years that I’ve known him and that piece of advice has always stuck with me (well, that and “make sure to take the lens cap off first.)

The thing is, he makes it look easy. Yet, it took him years to get the permissions to get up there to get these shots. He’s done this before so he knows about high-climbs, how to belay in, how to be safe doing all this. That’s all part of what goes into to making these photos.

“Just turn your face into the light a little bit.”
– I love when he says that to the guy hanging off the building. Hey, even 2,700 feet up, you have to art director your subjects. Hell, I forget to do that when I’m just standing at sea level. He’s not thinking about getting off the side of the building, he’s thinking about what he needs to make the shot great. Not like he’s coming up again next week.

Joe’s been doing this a long time. Here’s a shot that Joe emailed me back in, oh, maybe 2001 or so. He was working on a Nat Geo story called The Power of Light. One of the things he wanted to illustrate was the guys who changed the light bulbs in the Empire State Building spire in New York City. (Watch that video here.)

At the time, the fact that he climbed the Empire State Building, to me, was cool. But what was even more cool was that, after the fact, he EMAILED A PHOTO TO ME. Again, this was 2001 or 2002. That was still a novelty to me. Fast forward less than 10 years, and he’s Instagraming a shot from the world’s tallest building, it’s going viral and he’s just hoping not to drop his iPhone.

Joe McNally / Empire State Building

Joe McNally / Empire State Building

That’s what I love about the arch of Joe’s career – he’s continually learned, studied, advanced with the times, learned the new gadgets and gear. But above all, he’s held true to his axiom – Get Your Camera In A New Place.

Above all, though, he’s never taken himself too seriously and continues to have fun when he on location. This is still one of my favorite portraits of Joe, and not just becaue I shot it.

Marburg, Germany 2000

Marburg, Germany 2000

Also, big props to Joe’s assistant, Drew Gurain, who shot most of the Burj Khalifa video (except for the GoPro stuff.) I’ve met Drew a few times, a really warm guy and wonderful shooter as well. Check out his portfolio here, read his blog and follow him on Twitter.

© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2013

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