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“The best way out is always through.”

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Joe McNally's Navy Seals: The Hell Week Photos

I've met and interviewed a lot of great photographers over the years and I have to say that it's quite a trip to sit across from men and women that have literally changed the way that we look at photography and the world. Joe Mcnally is one of those photographers. Even if you've never heard his name before, there is no question that you've seen some of his photos. Joe has been a contributor to National Geographic for more than 23 years and has shot cover stories for TIME, Newsweek, Fortune, New York and countless other major publications. I interviewed him (on videotape) a number of years ago for PDN (Photo District News) shortly after he'd completed an in-depth photo essay on Senator John Glenn's return to space. To get the coverage he needed, Joe photographed every step of Glenn's astronaut training and, in fact, he insisted on becoming NASA dive certified himself during that assignment so that he could photograph Senator Glenn during his underwater training. It was such a wild story that while I think I was scheduled to interview him for an hour, we talked for well over two hours (in fact, I think we actually ran out of videotape).

Joe recently posted a series of photos the U.S. Navy Seals' Hell Week on his blog--a week when even the toughest of the tough are challenged to the core and more than 70% of the class drops out--and I was so blown away by the photos that I had to share them with you. The photos of these young guys enduring hell beyond all imagining will have you wondering how anyone could survive such intense training. And Joe is such a fine photojournalist that he becomes almost invisible in his role: you get no sense that a photographer was there taking the photos, you just find yourself completely immersed in the moment. This is no easy skill: this is the most extreme skill that a photojournalist can master.

Joe is also a first-rate teacher, by the way, and his book The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flashes is the best book on flash you'll find. He also has a new DVD just out and in the next few days I'll tell you more about that. But in the meantime, I had to share this incredible set of photos with you--you'll come away with nothing but admiration for the photos--and for those incredible Navy Seals. (Photo Copyright Joe McNally; all rights reserved.)

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