A Little Colin Time

Tonight is the night I’m to speak before the O’Fallon Photo Club. Since the day job ends hours ahead of when tonight’s fun begins, it’s a 35-mile round trip home and back to St. Charles, and the gas price rose to above three bucks today, I’ve been at the mercy of McDonald’s and Starbucks, landing for dinner and dessert.

As I’ve sat in between work and play, I’ve finished reading Joe McNally’s When It Clicks. This book has had a huge amount of press and buzz, selling out the first printing in about a second-and-a-half, and selling well through its surprise second printing. I’ve never met Joe, but I feel like I just sat down with him, and talked shop for hours. This book is that good, and written just that way.

Sometimes I have problems with technical books. The reference side of them is obvious, but I have a tough time sitting through them, reading them cover to cover, looking for the nuggets o’ goodness. Face it, most of them are designed to favor you having your keyboard in front of you to try launching the pearls of wisdom into the ether. Generally, those are a tough read when you’re sitting at the day job, without access to the machines that house all your photographic life and tools. This book ain’t that.

That’s not to say that there’s not a lot to learn, and plenty of excuses to put post-it notes on pages (my way of flagging something as a “big deal”), but the manner is different. This book is conversational, like Joe McNally was sitting right in front of you, swapping stories with you across a pint or three. And in that is the value. It’s learning without even realizing you’re doing it. It’s engrossing, and it’s fun. I cackled out loud innumerable times as I plowed through this tome of practical wisdom and wit.

This one’s good, gang. Find it if you can, read it for the fun. Read it again to figure out what you missed. And then read it once more to just flat breathe in the life this book has. There’s touching material, hilarious material, a little technical material, and plenty of things running the gamut between. In truth, had Mark Twain been in this age and a photographer, I could see him having written something like this.

And so a little Colin time was spent with one of the best photographers, and I was entertrained (entertained and trained, a word similar to edutainment or infomercials). And I was inspired, and that alone is probably the greatest gift a book and author can bestow.