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:
- He's incredibly good at explaining complex issues in simple terms
- Scott teaches you things just like he would tell a friend
- He meets a lot of other great photographers who share their knowledge, which he brings to you
- Basically, he's a friendly, happy guy who shares a ton of useful information for free
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.
- General photography
- Studio lighting
- Small flash lighting
- Portrait photography
- Travel photography
- Wedding photography
- Sports photography
- Drone photography
- Typography and Design
- Portrait retouching
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. That's why Scott Kelby is definitely 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 going 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 asked a few other questions quickly, 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 was something 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 who was on his way to build the career that I wanted, but never did. He's friendly, creative and I think 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 engaging with the models (no small effort because one of our models really wanted to give advice, too) and finishing the photos as either a portrait or a composite image.
In fact, 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, just 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 really 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 it comes to imparting knowledge to photographers. Like I said, he's the Kaiea of the photography education industry.
Over the next few years, I went to a lot of 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 own site. Up until then, I merely considered this site to be a place to share my own journey with photography. Fortunately, I learned it could be much more. That's the moment I realized that I could change this site from an inward view of my own 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 so that you can 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 actually splits some folks on Scott's books. Pretty much every chapter of his books start off with a bit of a joke or funny story. Why does he do it? Here are Scott's own words from his blog.
These quirky chapter introductions have become a tradition in all my books and they’re there to give my readers a “mental” break from all the step-by-step tutorials and such. These offbeat intros have very little (OK, pretty much nothing) to do with what’s actually in the chapter itself — again, they are just totally there for fun and I hear from readers all the time who really dig them (and I hope you will, too because if not they’ll just really p@$& you off).
Some people like them, some find them cheesy. He even has a book that's nothing but his chapter intros – just for the folks who are fans.
In fact, 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 a number of 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.
Scott Kelby Books and Video Training
I learn a great deal from Scott using live training, video training and through his excellent books. The links below are some of his offerings that I bought and can recommend.
Some of these are affiliate links. That means there is no extra cost to you, but I'll earn a small commission if you decide to buy based upon my recommendation. In fact, the KelbyOne link actually provides you with a discount to save $20 on an annual membership.
If you're one of those people 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 off 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 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.
While this is an older book and some of the gear mentioned here is out of date (and some isn't, thanks to the magic of new editions), the big thing here is that the information is evergreen. You can apply these concepts with any camera system and find compatible accessories.