For reasons other than his excellence as a photographer, Joe McNally, 32, was the perfect choice to shoot our story on high school basketball in Indiana (pages 38-61). "I was just like those kids," says McNally, in-his day a JV guard at Iona Prep in New Rochelle, N.Y. "I spent an awful lot of time on the bench, but basketball was what I really lived for in high school."
At Syracuse University, McNally was an intramural all-star, a title that lost some of its mystique after the all-stars were dismembered by the Orange freshman team for two years in a row. He also played on a summer league team in Yonkers, N.Y. with Charlie Criss, who was then trying to break into the NBA. At 6 feet, McNally had four inches on Criss but little else. "Every time I'd come off the court he'd sort of shake his head," says McNally, whose talents were better appreciated by London Amber, a semipro team for whom he scored 20 points a game during a semester of study in England. "They called it semipro because half the players were paid," he explains. "I wasn't one of them."
McNally aspired to be a magazine writer until he took a required photography course during his junior year at Syracuse and, in a manner of speaking, felt something click. He stayed on for two years of graduate work in photography and then, in 1976, joined the New York Daily News, first as a copy boy and then as a studio apprentice whose main role was processing film. During the next three years the News published a number of his pictures, mostly of the "Whew, It's Hot!" genre, shot on his lunch hour. After that he did a brief stint as a stringer for AP, UPI, The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and then worked for ABC, where he photographed stills of newscasts, soap operas and sports.
In 1981 McNally became a magazine free-lancer. His first client was DISCOVER, for which he shot two space-shuttle launches. Around that time he also showed his portfolio to MONEY picture researcher Michele Salzano. She liked his work. She also liked him. They were engaged in 1983, were married last September and now live in a loft decorated in what they call modified high tech. "We use Halliburton cases for furniture," says Michele. "Everything is metallic."
February 18, 1985
McNally's pictures in this issue are distinguished by his use of light. Natural as they may appear, photos like the one shot at dawn, on page 38, and another with light coming through a doorway, on page 46, were enhanced by the subtle use of strobes. "The fact that he can make it look as if there is no lighting shows how good Joe is," says SI picture researcher Eric Godwin.