Posts By Scott Kelby

Hi Gang, and greetings from Sacramento where I’m wrapping up my “Shoot Like a Pro” tour today. Here’s what’s up:

Massive Photo Gear Giveaway
Two awesome photographers, Elia Locardi and Ken Kaminesky, have joined force to form “Dream Photo Tours” and to kick things off they are doing some insane giveaways. Here’s the link to enter for your chance to win (and see a list of all the prizes they’re giving away this week).

I’m off to Dubai next week!
More on the whys coming up soon, but Brad and I are heading there next week, and I need some awesome ideas of where to shoot (It’s been 6+ years since I’ve been there and can’t wait to go back, but I want a plan this time, instead just going around kinda blind, so if you have any ideas, let me know).

It’s “The Lightroom Show,” Episode #4
We’re cranking’ ’em out every week. It’s 12-packed full minutes of just wall-to-wall Lightroom tips and tutorials. Here’s the link, or you can subscribe for free on iTunes (here’s that link).

OK, I gotta hit the sack! (big day tomorrow!).

All my best,


P.S. I’m kicking off my all new tour, “Shoot Like a Pro: Reloaded!” in April in Salt Lake City, and then Los Angeles. Here’s the link with details. Hope I’ll see you there!


Earlier this week I was in Las Vegas at the WPPI show (the big Wedding and Portrait Show), and I was honored to be asked to give a talk in Canon’s booth on any topic I’d like (that’s me during one of my talks on Monday â” photo by Brad Moore).

While the name of my talk was “Photo Recipes” a big part of the talk was about lenses, but not the standard lens demo stuff (use this lens for weddings and this lens for sports, and the like), but thinking about lenses in the bigger picture (no pun intended there, but I wish it had been): from the fact that the moment you pick up a lens and put it on your camera, you’ve already made your first composition decision, to why so many people aren’t happy with their lens (and it’s not about sharpness or clarity, weight or price).

Here’s the condensed version
It was a 45-minute presentation so I can’t fit it all in here, but one topic I did touch on (with lots of examples) was why so many folks tell me they think their photos either look like snapshots or are just “nothing special” and I think part of that can be attributed to their lens selection. In particular, I feel (just my opinion here, but I’m not the first one to say this), that there’s a lens range that I consider kind of a “no-man’s land” for lenses because it’s where most of the worst photos are taken â” when you’re first starting out. That range, when you’re a beginner, is where your worst shots are made (stay with me here), and then you get better and leave those behind.

One of my favorite quotes ever
It comes from Bresson and it’s so right on the money:

He’s right, ya know. Now, let’s think about which lenses most photographers these days start out with. Usually, a kit lens, probably an 18-55mm. You can opt for other kit choices, like a 24-105mm or another popular one is the 18-135mm. But most beginner’s photos are going to be taken within that no-man’s land range of anywhere from 18-135mm with lots of shots at 50mm, 70mm and maybe the 100mm range. The reason I don’t really like a 24-70mm on my full-frame camera is that it’s fairly equivalent to an 18-55mm on a crop sensor camera. That range makes an awful lot of average pictures for people just starting out. It’s the beginner’s range of choice.

So, am I saying you can’t take a good picture with an 18-55mm or an 18-135mm?
Absolutely not. I am not saying that at all â” a lot of folks take amazing pictures with an 18-55mm. But a whole lot more, don’t.

So what are you saying?
Most folks that are new to photography are playing the middle ground when it comes to focal lengths. Using the average, standard default focal lengths they have with kit lenses. They live and die in that beginner’s range because they haven’t bought their first “2nd lens” yet, and here’s why this matters:

(1) They can shoot a wide angle shot, but not super wide. Just “average wide.” Like everybody else.
(2) They can shoot a telephoto shot, but not nearly tight enough to really bring you in close to see detail, like the pros do.

I think that’s one big reason they’re unhappy with their shots â” and why I feel they often describe their own shots to me as “average.” They’re comparing their images to the ones they see the top pros make, and their shots just don’t look like that. They’re not that wide. They’re not that close. They’re not that “something” and they probably don’t realize what it is, which makes it all even more frustrating. That average kit focal length definitely makes it harder (not impossible, but certainly harder) to create really compelling images because it’s harder to “stand out from the crowd.” At those focal lengths, you’re producing the same types of shots everybody else with a kit lens does. That’s before we even get to the sharpness issues, which is a post unto itself.

So, what is super wide and why does it matter?
My go-to lens for the past year has been Canon’s 16-35mm lens, and quite honestly, I could just tape the barrel down at 16mm â” I rarely ever shoot it at anything but 16mm, because when I go wide, I don’t want to go “a little wide” â” I want the image to have a chance of looking epic. Of looking big, and sweeping and just flat-out different the instant you see it. I certainly don’t always hit that goal. In fact, I rarely hit that goal, but at least I know it won’t be because of my lens choice â” it will be on me; what I’m shooting and how I composed it. Those alone â” I’m not limited by my lens.

But I want to go wider!
Wider is better, and I just started shooting Canon’s 14mm lens after Brad tried one out shooting a concert and was raving about it’s sharpness, but beyond that it’s just the “look” you get when you get that wide. It brings something different to the table â” something that instantly captures attention. That’s the kind of lens I want to be using (I don’t care that it’s a prime â” I’ll zoom with my feet).

Soon, I’ll be able to go even wider
My dream lens was just announced by Canon, and as soon as it ships, I’m picking one up (that’s a heads up to B&H â” please keep one for me, and can I get free overnight shipping?). It’s an 11-24mm zoom. I haven’t seen one yet. I haven’t shot it, but I know it’s going to bring me the opportunity to take even wider shots, and show a view most folks aren’t already used to seeing day-in, day out. It’s still on me; choosing the subject and composition, to make the shot, but I know at least with a lens that wide I’ll be starting on 2nd base.

For just two shots from each shoot, I want to go even wider. I want to go “fish”
Last year I started using the Canon 8-15mm fisheye zoom, and I absolutely love it (but I don’t use it at anything other than 15mm fish, so I get the full fish effect but without blacking out any of the edges or turning it into a full circle at 8mm). That lens creates really captivating images, but I’ve found that when you show someone a fisheye shot from a shoot, I don’t care if it’s a wedding or a bowl game, they’re like “Wow! That is really cool!” When you show them a second fisheye shot, they’re like “That’s cool” and if you show them a third it’s like “Uh huh.” It’s a special effect lens, and while it has real wow factor for one or two shots, (it tends to get old real fast, like highly processed HDR), so I know going in to the shoot that I’m only going to show one or two shots from it, but those one to two I show will have a huge impact, and knowing I’m going to get two shots that nobody else has, and that they’re going to have a big impact, well, that’s money in the bank where I come from.

Go long or go home
Dave Black said that to me once about shooting the same semi-long lens at a football game everybody else is shooting, but I think his advice extends way beyond just football. I think this is the other side of the coin that beginners are struggling with â” going beyond that 135mm telephoto focal range, and bring something special to the party. 200mm is a great focal length, and there’s so much you can do with it. My Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 is my workhorse lens. I use it for every sport I shoot, I use it for most every portrait, I use it at weddings, I’ve used it for travel, if I was stuck on a desert island and could only choose one lens, it’d be this (or a 28-300mm for full frame, I’m kinda torn). 200mm is a great focal length for sure. Ya know what’s even better? 300mm. Better yet? 400mm. These are ranges beginners rarely capture, and by shooting at 400mm you’re bringing something different, something special, something with impact to the party â” something that separates you from the crowd.

This past year I shot an Eagles/Titans NFL game using nothing but one lens, Canon’s updated 100-400mm f/4.5 to f/5.6 IS II lens. It cost less than my 70-200mm, but I was in tight at 400mm, and churning out shots for the first time at a pro or college game without using a Monopod. It was a revelation, but without that monopod I was (ahem) unprotected in front and took direct contact down south with the business end of a bullet pass and wellâ¦I saw stars for a few minutes there, but it was still an amazing experience, and one that was financially out-of-reach for a lot of folks, but now is in a lot of shooters’ ballpark (no pun, but come on, that would have been a good one), and that puts them in a better chance to make some magic than they would have in kit land. Again, not that it can’t be done â” there are some amazing kit lens shooters out there â” you just have to be really, really good.

Don’t take all this the wrong way
I know when I write an article like this that it’s natural for people who have, and love, and have maybe gotten great results in what I called a “no-man’s land” focal range lens to get defensive when they read this, and write defensive comments. Please don’t take it that way. I had all those same kit lenses, too. One of my favorite shots I’ve ever taken was taken with the kit lens on my first DSLR, the original Canon Rebel, so I know good shots can be taken with inexpensive lenses. This isn’t about the price. It’s about what lens choice means to your composition, your images, and your impact.

What I hope to do with this article, and what I hoped to achieve with my talks for Canon earlier this week out in Vegas, was for photographers, especially new shooters who are frustrated with what they’re getting, to realize that part of their problem might be partially focal length based, and I want folks to know how important lens selection is to the type of image you’re about to make. I think it’s the starting point of every shot â” the first composition decision â” and why we need to really give some thought to which lenses we use and why we use them, because I truly believe it makes that big a difference. When that realization hits you, you can’t look back. This is important stuff, and I hope this helped, at the very least, to get you thinking seriously about your lens choice next time you’re out shooting, or when you’re deciding on which lens to get next.

I’m off to Sacramento!
I’m there on Monday for the final stop of the most fun seminar to teach I’ve ever taught.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and I hope to see you back here on Monday.

All my best,

Going really wide and really long (stop snickering)

Above: It was a cold, gray day in Richmond â” perfect for shooting indoors. Here’s an iPhone pic of me in front of The Byrd (photo by Brad Moore).

So, last month I’m reading USA Today (online) and I run across an article about classic old historic movie theaters (link) and I saw that one of them was in Richmond, Virginia, which was great because in just a few days I was going to be in Richmond with my seminar tour. So, I asked my assistant Lynn to contact the theater and see if there was any way I could come in the day before my seminar; set up a tripod; and take  some shots of the theater while it was empty. Well, as luck would have it, the theater manager (a really cool guy named Todd Schall-Vess) was a KelbyOne subscriber and had some of my books as well, so we were all set for our afternoon shoot, and he pretty much gave us the run of the place, which was awesome.

Above: Here’s the Byrd from the very back of the theater shot with a 15mm fisheye lens on a full frame 5D Mark III. The fisheye is so wide that you’re also seeing the balcony, which is right over my head, in this shot. Click on it for a larger view.

Above: Here’s a behind-the-scenes shot. I mostly shot from the seating areas, and tried both of my lenses for each location (a 15mm fisheye, and a 16-35mm).

Above: Here’s a fisheye from the balcony.

There are not HDRs
I did shoot three exposures (one regular exposure, one 2-stops under-exposed, and one 2-stops over), and I tried doing some HDRs, including 32-bit HDRs but the problem was always the chandelier â” when the HDRs merged into a single file, the chandelier was still blown out big time, so instead I put all three images into the same file on their own separate layers (Open all three images, then go under Photoshop’s File menu, under Scripts, and choose Load Files into Stack). Then I just used Layer Masks to paint in the chandelier and ceiling from the layer that was under-exposed, and then I painted in areas that needed to be brightened from the over-exposed layer, so kind of an old-fashioned layer mask party. It takes longer, but it was much more effective than the results I was getting from regular HDRs (including trying Photomatix Pro 5).

Above: Here’s a closer view.

Above: Here’s the reverse view, from the stage looking back at the house, shot with the 16-35mm at 16mm. 

Above: Another behind-the-scenes shot. Using a travel tripod and a cable release. Can’t believe we actually remembered it. 

Above: Here’s a fisheye version from the same shooting position. 

The theater is MUCH darker than it looks in these photos
In fact it’s so dark that Todd Schall-Vess (the theater’s manager, and a photographer himself), told us that one time a photographer was there to shoot the theater and asked Todd to turn the lights on. Todd told him, “All the lights are on.” I could see how he’d ask that â” it was incredibly dark inside, so my shots are actually brighter than the theater. When I made them look like it really did, you would swear the shots were 2-stops under-exposed.

The Byrd Rocks!
My thanks to Todd Schall-Vess for letting us takes some photos of The Byrd. Just a beautiful place, and if a three-hour long movie hadn’t been playing that night, Brad and I would have been there that night to take in a show â” it’s a perfect place for it, and one of just a handful left like it anywhere in the country, and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity.

OK, I’ve gotta hit the sack â” big day today here in Vegas and a long flight home.

Hope you have a Tuesday packed with all the wholesome goodness of 100% whole grain. ;-)



First, if you’re not familiar with Mylio (and you’re concerned about protecting your images, and you love the idea of having access to all your photos wherever you are), jump over to this link and see what it’s about, then come right back here (by the way, you can download a free trial while you’re there, but wait till later â” come straight back here). :)

I’ve been using Mylio since it was in early Betaâ¦
I was there for the launch in NYC and I think the people and technology behind it are truly amazing. But this weekend, I started over from scratch with Mylio, downloading and reinstalling the app and rebuilding the entire thing on my iMac (which amazingly only took about 25 minutes, including setting it up on all my mobile devices), but I decided to do all this after a talk with one of my buddies over at Mylio, Kevin Gilbert (you may have seen Kevin’s Ted Talk about the importance of protecting your images that I shared here on the blog last year), where he said something that made me completely rethink the way I use Mylio. He said,

"All the pictures of your lifeâ¦with you all the time.”

Now, he added an extra line to it, which I’ll share in a moment, but it made me rethink how I’d been using Mylio. I think I was influenced by a lot of top pros who literally now have their entire photo libraries, raw files and all, being managed by Mylio. There are users with over one-million photos being managed in one Mylio catalog (yes, they have one-million+ photos on their phone), I had a ton of photos in there myself, and yes they were now on all my mobiles devices â” tens of thousands of them, but when Kevin said that simple sentence to me, I realized something.

The RAW files I didn’t finish, the ones that didn’t “make the cut” â” the ones I didn’t like enough to tag even as a pick, or that the client rejected â” I was managing them all through Mylio. Why am I loading hundreds of thousands of photos I don’t like, just because “I can?”

So, I looked at the folder of images I do care about. It’s named “Final Images” and I looked at the size: it’s 126 GB, with around 23,800 photos inside it. It’s all my high-res final JPEGs going back for years from every family vacation, every photo book, every slideshow, every trip, ever photo I’ve taken with my phone, everything I actually care about. They are all in folders within that one big “Final Images” folder.

Those are the images I care about. Those are the pictures of “my life” that I care about. I would love to have all of those with me all the time, but I don’t have 128-Gig free on any mobile device, but today as I write this, I have every one of those photos I care about (23,800 or so) not just on my pon all my devices because Mylio’s compression (and smart sizing) let me add all those images to my iPhone and it only took up (wait for itâ¦wait for itâ¦)â¦

912 Mb.

That’s all. Not even 1-Gb.

I already had my “Final Images” on my backup drive at home, (attached to my iMac) so I just imported that one folder into Mylio and it did the rest automatically, keeping all the folders and file structure intact and the whole nine yards. In less than an hour, I had every image I cared about on my laptop, on my iPhone, on my iMac and on my iPad. Every photo! (and by the way, I can’t imagine a situation where I would want to show somebody one of the Raw photos I left on my backup drive. It would be like “Hey, wanna see some photos I didn’t think were any good?”).

I know every Mylio user will use Mylio in a different way, and I had been in that “keep everything with me always mode” and now I’ve shifted to “Keep what’s important with me always mode” and I’m absolutely loving it. But besides having them always with me, I was particularly tickled to go to Mylio’s “Flow” view (which does a beautiful job of displaying tall and wide images together like a completed puzzle) and see my entire life flow by in thousands of photos â” photos I literally haven’t seen in years (they were neatly tucked away in folders), but now I’m seeing them again as I flick through the years and I spent hours just looking. Exploring. Smiling. Tearing Up. Laughing. It was totally worth it just for that experience.

It helped me rediscover a photo that means so much to me
This is a photo of my wife Kalebra, which is one of my favorites of her, taken in Nafplion, Greece. It has such meaning to me because for most of our married life (26-years this year), she absolutely hated (mega-hated) having her picture taken. She really felt that she was incredibly unphotogenic and any time you tried to take a photo of her, she would put on that “This is going to look awful” face to ensure that she was right. Well, we’re on this beautiful island, and she looks so beautiful to me every single day, and now here she is in this beautiful setting and I took a picture of her and sure enough, her beautiful face contorted into that “This is going to look awful” look and so I walked over to her, and saidâ¦

“Honey, these photos are the visual history of your life. When our children look back on these photos, do you want them to see your beautiful smile, or this “please get this over, I know this looks awful” look you put on. You look like you’re hating the moment that’s not the way you want your children to remember you.”

She gritted her teeth and kind of smiled. But later that same day, we were in line for something and I called out her name and she turned, paused and gave me her real smile â” the one you see in the photo above, and I was just floored! She even stood there and let me take three or four shots!

I walked right over and said “Honey, you smiled a real smile!” And she said that she had made up her mind that she didn’t want me or our kids to look back and see her old “This looks awful, right?” look, and from now on she would be happy to have her photo taken; I could take as many shots as I wanted, and she would give a genuine smile every time. I was absolutely thrilled, and now she always flashes her gorgeous smile, and I have boat loads of photos of her looking the way she really does day in and day out. When going thru my “Mylio flow” I saw this photo, one I hadn’t seen in years, and it stopped me right in my tracks because I remember so vividly why this shot means so much to me. Time to make a print for my desk.

Kevin’s extra lineâ¦
So, I know one of Mylio’s main things is making sure your images are protected and backed up in multiple places, and I now know that as I’m traveling to Las Vegas for the WPPI show this week, that for the first time in my life, ALL my important photos are with me (by the way, the thing that Kevin added to the end of that sentence I mentioned near the top was the “marketing part” but it’s a powerful one” "All the pictures of your lifeâ¦with you all the time, for $4 a month."), but it’s helped me to relive some of the most important moments of my life, of my family’s life, and it’s changed the way I’ll use Mylio from here on out, and I’m more excited about Mylio today than I’ve ever been (especially since the latest version supports PSDs), so thanks Kevin, and thanks to my buddy David Vaskevitch for having the vision and passion to bring Mylio to life.

Hey, if you’re out here in Vegas and you see me strolling by, stop me and I’ll show you my photo flow in Mylio on my iPhone (don’t worry, I won’t show you 23,000+ photos. I’ll stop around 19,000). ;-)

Hope to see you at my Canon booth presentation (today at 1:45 pm and tomorrow at 10:45 am) , or at the Canon-sponsored “KelbyOne Theater” on the Expo Floor (I’m doing a free session on portrait retouching at 10:30 am today).

Have a butt-kicking, feeling-the-love, takin’ lots of photos Monday!



Happy Friday every-ba-day! :)

If you’re out in Vegas this week for the WPPI show (the big Wedding and Portrait photography show), I hope you’ll stop by and check out my talks at Canon’s booth and the KelbyOne Theater on the Expo floor. All the talks are free and open to anyone attending the WPPI expo.

Canon Booth: My talk is called “Photo Recipes Live”
Monday @ 1:45 pm
Tuesday @ 10:45 am

KelbyOne Theater: My talk is on Portrait Retouching Secrets
Monday at 10:30 am 

You may also be able to catch my short talk called “My order” at the counter at the In/Out Burger location behind the New York, New York Hotel & Casino at some point during this event.

If you’re out at the show, I hope you’ll stop by one of my sessions and say “hi.”

Hope you all have an awesome weekend, and we’ll see ya back here on Monday (I have a cool post for Monday about me rethinking some cool technology). :)



P.S. One more thing: Our third episode of “The Lightroom Show” went live today (we release them every Friday), and we packed some awesome Lightroom tips and techniques in a very short package. Here’s the link if you get a sec. 

Last week I heard the news that my long-time friend Nancy Aldrich-Ruenzel was retiring from her post as Publisher at Peachpit Press, the company that for as long as I can remember, has published all my books. For many years Nancy had led a team of some of the most creative, passionate, and talented people in modern book publishing history, and she and her team gave flight to an unparalleled body of work from some of the greatest educators of graphics, art and design of our time.

I’m dedicating my blog today to Nancy as my way of saying thanks for never compromising, for always striving to do what’s right by the reader, and for taking so many chances with my crazy book ideas over the years.

One of the things I loved most about working with Nancy was her love of the art of making books. It was just wired into her DNA, and she got such joy from the entire process, from the first inklings of an idea, to watching it mature and grow through the writing process and production journey, to overseeing it every step of the way as it moved through this cycle to the final printed book. Her passion and commitment to “just making great books” made being one of her authors something very special and something that I’ll dearly miss as she moves onto this next phase of her life.

Nancy is a true pioneer in this industry, and her vision for educational books for creative people really made a difference in so many people’s lives and careers and won her the respect and admiration of both her peers and her competitors alike. It’s hard for me to imagine Nancy not steering the ship, as we’ve worked together so closely over the years, and her wisdom, humor, and drive will be missed by everyone that’s ever worked with her.

She left Peachpit in very capable hands without a doubt, with a wonderful team she put together who will continue her legacy and continue making great books for many years to come, but I’ll always miss our heartfelt talks about the industry, the future of publishing and content creation, the evolution of education, and which restaurant we have to check out next time I’m in San Francisco.

Beyond her gift for publishing and the business side of things, Nancy is just an awesome, down-to-earth, fun person to be around, and even more importantly, she’s a sincerely good person who genuinely wants the best for those around her, and that’s about the greatest compliment I could pay anyone.

I’ll be forever grateful to Nancy for all her guidance, her insights, and her friendship these many years, and I wish her and her wonderful family all the joys and quality time the gift of retirement can bring.

Thank you, Nancy. It’s truly been an honor to be one of your authors, and even though you’ll be watching from the sidelines from here on out, I’ll still be out there trying to write books that would make you proud.

Much love and lots of hugs,

-Scott, Kalebra, and all your friends and fans here at KelbyOne