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McNally's Lighting Tip of the Week: Don't Leave
Difficult subject? Make it clear you're not leaving.
by Joe McNally

The Observer of London assigned me to photograph Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and the most famous of the Merry Pranksters. They evidently hadn't checked with him.

I arrived at his house in Oregon, which was sort of like Times Square on New Year's Eve-just more rural and fewer people.

At first, he ignored me. Then he avoided me. Then he wasn't gonna pose.

"I don't care how big the camera is, I won't salute it," he declared, saluting me instead.

Luckily, he has this great hammock on his front lawn and it was summer. I took a long nap. Came back the next day and did the same. Went to lunch. Came back. Took another nap.

Late on the second day, he came outside. "Wanna go feed the cows?" (On location, when your subject asks you a question like that, say yes.)

So Kesey and I started throwing bales of hay off the back of a moving pickup truck to a bunch of hungry heifers. "This stuff is like tai stick for cows," he said, taking a long pull on what distinctly looked like tai stick between his lips.

He relaxed after that, got in his Eldorado with his cocker spaniel, and I got a picture.

I think he just wanted me to leave.

[How to Get This Type of Shot: This is shot with available light-late afternoon, using a 20mm wide-angle lens.]

Excerpted from: The Moment It Clicks. Photography secrets from one of the world's top shooters. By Joe McNally, Copyright 2008 Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and New Riders.