Scott Kelby is the President and CEO of KelbyOne. He’s the world’s best-selling author of photography books. When Scott Kelby releases a new book, sales go up for everyone in the photography genre. How do I know this? Because I heard it from other photography book authors who told me that they see their sales increase at the same time Scott’s books come out. He’s literally the Kaiea of the photography book publishing industry – the rising tide that lifts all boats.
The reason Scott has such an impact upon the industry, in my opinion, comes down to a few simple factors:
I wonder where he finds the time to create so much information. His blog runs five days a week. There’s a weekly YouTube show and another show only for members of KelbyOne – a subscription education and community service for photographers. On top of that, he tours across the country with training seminars, writes books, develops training for KelbyOne and also runs Photoshop World – one of the premier conferences for photographers.
A Wide Range of Topics, Yet Covered in Depth
As I’m writing this in March 2018, Scott has 83 courses on his Instructor page of KelbyOne. Take a look at the range of topics he teaches in those courses.
Have you ever known one of those people who just seems to excel at everything he does? Scott is one of those people, and he shares what he knows with you. Scott Kelby is one of the prominent photography authors you need to know.
We haven’t even covered the fact that he’s also an excellent musician.
My Experiences with Scott Kelby
I joined Kelby Training and the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) – the precursor to KelbyOne – back in May 2008. That’s about ten years of learning from Scott Kelby through his books, online training and eventually, live seminars and workshops.
At the time, He had a new book coming out for Lightroom 2 and Photoshop World promised to reveal everything about new improvements, how it differs from the first version of Lightroom and how to make it work for my workflow. Everything lived up to its billing.
It wasn’t until the following year that I decided to attend Photoshop World. $499 to attend and $279 for a pre-conference workshop with Moose Peterson and Joe McNally. I also dropped $49 for a SpeedPass, which turned out to be a great convenience. It looked something like this:
I didn’t meet Scott at the conference, but I attended a couple of his classes and saw him at other events during Photoshop World.
By this time, I’m reading his blog every day and interacting with the comments. We didn’t actually meet until 2011, and it took me slightly by surprise.
Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It – Hands On Workshop
Scott had a seminar at the time called Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It. I registered for the Orlando stop on the tour. When another opportunity came up. Scott opened up registration for a hands-on workshop of this seminar held at Dave Cross’s studio in Oldsmar.
It sounded like a great opportunity, so I booked it.
When I got there, I found Scott sitting in a chair and he looked up at me and asked, “Are you William Beem?”
It surprised me that he knew my name, and he quickly asked a few other questions, and then got up to tell me that he was really pleased with something I wrote about his assistant at the time, Brad Moore.
Basically, I’m impressed with Brad and the career he developed for himself. He went to photo school, which I intended to do, and instead got sidetracked in an IT career. He worked for Joe McNally and then Scott Kelby as an assistant. Brad Moore is a friendly guy on his way to building the career I wanted but never did. He’s friendly, creative, and secretly an evil genius who gets stuff done.
I think my comment to that effect is how I got on Scott’s radar and he appreciated that I saw the good in Brad. The workshop went on from there and I had an absolute blast.
Scott covered everything from the different lighting techniques to help engage with the models (no small effort because one of our models wanted to give advice, too) and finishing the photos as either a portrait or a composite image.
I still use one of those images as my background wallpaper on the computer.
After this workshop, I still went to the seminar. It was the same material without the hands-on component because it was in a conference room packed with hundreds of other attendees.
I was impressed that Scott could share the same lessons with an audience including hundreds of people as he just shared with about a dozen people at the workshop. It was definitely nice to have the chance to put the lessons into practice at the workshop, but I still would’ve learned what I needed as an attendee in the seminar.
Perhaps that’s why his seminars pack ’em in. Scott delivers when he teaches. Not only does he share his prepared material, but he also sticks around during the breaks to answer questions from a line of people with their individual problems.
On one hand, this is great for him to get a feeling of what’s causing pain or confusion from photographers he needs to teach. On the other hand, when does he get to go pee?
Watching Scott teach and interact with his students shows me why he’s at the top of his game when imparting knowledge to photographers. As I said, he’s the Kaiea of the photography education industry.
Over the next few years, I attended many Photoshop World conferences in Orlando and Las Vegas. I also kept attending Scott’s classes. Everything from how to use Type to Blogging.
It was the course on blogging that changed my mind about my site. Until then, I considered this site a place to share my journey with photography. Fortunately, I learned it could be much more. That’s when I realized that I could change this site from an inward view of my photography to an outward view where I could share something useful.
In other words, I learned that I’m here to help.
Scott Kelby shares a lot of useful information. Not just about the technical aspects of photography, lighting or Photoshop. He helps you understand the “why” behind the “what.” Scott became a valuable influence on my own experiences as a photographer and ultimately as someone starting a business.
You can get the “How to” concepts from many people, but Scott Kelby delivers that within a much greater lesson to become a better photographer, artist, and entrepreneur.
He Has a Sense of Humor
You wouldn’t think that a sense of humor is controversial, but this splits some folks on Scott’s books. Pretty much every chapter of his books starts with a bit of a joke or funny story. Why does he do it? Here are Scott’s own words from his blog.
Some people like them, and some find them cheesy. He even has a book that’s nothing but his chapter intros – just for the folks who are fans.
100% of the profits from this book go to the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya, run by some friends of his. He helps raise money for this charity in many ways, including his annual World Wide Photo Walk.
So if you don’t care for his sense of humor, that’s OK. It’s a book. You can just turn the page and get to the meat of his tutorial if it’s not to your taste. And if you like, perhaps you could help him support the Springs of Hope Orphanage.
Support the Springs of Hope orphanage when you buy this book of Scott Kelby's chapter intros. Lots of "Dad humor" for fans.
Scott Kelby Books and Video Training
I learn a great deal from Scott using live training, video training, and through his excellent books. Below are some of his offerings that I bought and can recommend.
The KelbyOne link gives you a discount to save money on an annual or monthly membership. Just note the coupon codes for the type of membership you prefer.
The Flash Book
If you’re one of those who bought a flash but never knew how to take a good photo with it, this book is for you. Scott makes it insanely easy to configure your flash and start taking photos. Later in the book, you’ll find advice on accessories to help you elevate the level of your flash photo results.
There are also plenty of typical scenarios for flash photography, complete with directions to get a specific look or type of photo. It’s interesting to note just how much you can achieve with one or two flashes.
My comparison of this book is like learning how to drive. You don’t start as a race driver, but you can quickly learn how to go from 0 to 60 mph and comfortably commute around town. This is even easier, and you don’t need a license to flash.
The Flash Book helps beginners understand the concepts of applying flash photography, and it does a great job of getting you up to speed. You don't just follow instructions.
Scott helps you understand why things work so you can make independent decisions with your unique photos. Some readers complain about Scott's style of humor used in his books, but his information is solid and reliable.
Each page covers a single topic, so you can find what you’re looking for fast, and Scott’s casual style makes it easy to understand and apply his techniques.
- Scott makes it insanely easy to understand and use flash
- It doesn't include theoretical discussions about light
- Includes plenty of tips for different flash techniques
- Some may not like the humor
- It doesn't include theoretical discussions about light
The Digital Photography Book: (2020)
The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby is the world’s best-selling book on digital photography. It began a series of similar books to follow that teach photography concepts and techniques in a simple and easy-to-understand method.
Scott’s premise is to avoid a lot of the technical jargon and explain how to do various photography techniques as if he were explaining it to a friend.
This is an updated book since the original was a bit dated. The big thing here is that the information is evergreen. You can apply these concepts to any camera system and find compatible accessories.
The Digital Photography Book is the completely updated version of the #1 best-selling digital photography book of all time, written by Scott Kelby. It’s packed with over 200 of the most closely guarded photographic “tricks of the trade,” so you can start taking dramatically better-looking, sharper, more colorful, and more professional-looking photos every time you pick up your camera.
This isn’t a theory book full of confusing jargon and detailed concepts. This is a book on which button to push, which setting to use, and when to use it. Each page covers a single concept that improves your photography.
- Easy to read
- Scott teaches like he's explaining to a friend
- Updated to stay current with recent trends and gear
- Great for beginners
- Copious bits of Dad humor