The Pointe Shoe Mysteries with Joe McNally: Part One

Posted by: on Nov 05, 2020

The Pointe Shoe Mysteries with Joe McNally: Part One

Behind every photoshoot, there’s a team working to make a visual story come to life. We go behind the scenes with famed photographer Joe McNally as he creates the “The Pointe Shoe Mysteries,” a dance noir storyline. In this video, Joe delves into how this visual photoshoot depicting a murder mystery came to fruition with the use of advanced gel and lighting techniques, and a robust team of individuals who played a pivotal part into making this dark and grim photo series come to life. 

Capturing a Story 

A premise that revolves around a murder mystery involves many different aspects of location, lighting, and gear. In this case, one that captures the ambiance of a late-night murder scene backlit by the neon lights of a big city. Using a Nikon Z7 Mirrorless Camera, Joe ventured to Brooklyn, New York and set the first scene in a laundromat in the heart of the city. Joe enlisted a talented team, including photographers Seth Miranda and Daniel Norton, to create a crime scene involving a murdered ballerina inside a laundromat dryer. As with any on-location photoshoot, Joe and his team came together to figure out how this visual story would play out.  

The Importance of Lighting 

In order to create a dramatic crime scene world, colored gels were a must to bring the atmosphere to life. Blue and red gels were used outside, facing the windows of the laundry mat to flood the background and ceiling to give the impression of a crime scene. The inside of the laundry mat was then lit with green gels; one positioned to light the floor and the other positioned indirectly to cause a green light throughout the building and actors in the scene. Joe used several Profoto B10 Plus units and A1X units for accents. The Profoto B10 proved light, fast, powerful and easy to use on set. In addition, the A1X utilized were easy placement components that made setting the scene an easy one. 

“The beauty of Profoto’s lineup of flashes is that you can go from small size, small power to big size, big power controlled all from a single Air Remote,” mentioned Joe.  

To watch the first video The Pointe Shoe Mysteries with Joe McNally, watch the video above and stay tuned for the next installment of this series where Joe continues on the case of this murder mystery with the help of Tether Tools gear.  

About 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 photographer for Sports Illustrated, a staff photographer at LIFE, and currently, an ongoing 23-year contributor to the National Geographic, shooting numerous cover stories for those publications.