Category Archives Guest Blogger


Creativity doesn’t come easy, at least not for me. It’s more of a fight with plenty of ups and down. Often it involves climbing to the top of one ladder, only to discover the need to jump off. Through it all I’ve discovered that striving to become more creative is a challenge worth the reward, because it helps us to become more of the person who we were designed to be.


In my own journey, I’ve found that when the creative spark is ignited we create our best work and lead more meaningful lives. Yet, becoming creative isn’t as easy as it seems. So I set out to write a book on the topic with the goal of helping others to become more creative and alive. And I’m super excited to announce that as of last week, the book has been released! The title of the book is, The Creative Fight. Check out the trailer below:

Do you want to become more creative? If so, read on!  Below are a few stories, images and ideas that I hope will strike a chord and inspire you to fight the good fight and live a better life. Let me begin by introducing you to the cast of characters that I hope will inspire: Miguel, Andrew, Jack and Chuck. The first character you probably know. His full name is Miguel de Cervantes. But what you probably didn’t know, is that…



How Your Fast Paced Everyday Life Can Hide Your Passion For Photography From You
You wake up to the alarm in the morning, jump (or slide) out of bed, down your coffee, check your calendar, throw on your clothes (or shower first if you’re lucky enough) race to the bus stop, school, work, event, wherever and go throughout your day trying to catch up, only to realize that you’re late to leave the office for your child’s big game but you hustle and get there just in time to catch little Sally cross the finish line, or start her recital, or take her to tutoring or…

Sound familiar?


I’m willing to bet that some of you are saying, “Exactly! I don’t have the energy to be passionate about photography. The only thing I’m passionate about is getting into my jammies at the end of the day.” Wait. I digress. Where was I?

Oh, yeah. Here’s the thing. You’re wrong.

I want you to think about all the times when you take a picture of your coffee, fancy plate of food, little Sally coming across the finish line, Grandma acting silly, a sunset at the beach, a flower, or even a structure that’s beautiful to you. I want you to think about the time you went to someone’s wedding (who had hired a perfectly good wedding photographer) and you still felt compelled to get “that” shot.

Do you pause to take those photos because you don’t have enough things to squeeze into the precious minutes of your day? To me, it sounds like you’re passionate about capturing a moment and at those times you might even be thinking…

“I’d love to be able to zoom in on little Sally when she’s on the field.”


“How long do I have to wait for the guy in the Speedo to move out of my perfect sunset shot?!”


“I wish that wedding photographer would get out of my way because I HAVE THE PERFECT SHOT!”

Haha! (I’m sorry, but I know a lot of wedding photographers and that last one makes me giggle.)

The point is that you are passionate about photography and you are having photographer’s thoughts. So, own it! Love it! Do it! Here’s some of the best advice I can give you about all of it. Ready?

Pay attention to your photographer’s thoughts, give them an extra few seconds and your passion will reveal itself to you. If you take those images, look at them again and enjoy them and appreciate that moment. If you have an extra minute or two, take them into an app or program and have fun with the process. You might as well because you’re passionate about it. ;)

Have a wonderful day everyone!

You can read more of Kalebra’s writings and see more of her photography at, and follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest.


Hello from Whidbey Island, WA, USA! I’m a fine-art photographer and long-time fan of Scott Kelby. I became a fine-art photographer because it allows me to follow my interests and passions down pretty much any rabbit hole. I’m particularly passionate about alternative and historical processes and combining those processes into modern workflows. In addition to being a photographer, I am a core faculty member at the Photographic Center Northwest in Seattle. I teach all sorts of classes on black and white film, Photoshop and Lightroom, Visual Literacy, and alternative and historical processes.


When Brad reached out to me about guest blogging, I spent several days thinking about what to write. At first I thought about sharing some great Photoshop techniques for editing or printing, but then I thought about how this is Scott’s blog and what could I possibly share that’s new? Scott has literally written tons of books about Photoshop, Lightroom, and Photography. Then I thought about walking through one of my shoots and post-processing processes. But again, those thoughts of self doubt crept in. So now I sit staring at a blank screen unable to shut off the voice inside my head telling me that I don’t have anything unique and important to say.


I have a love/hate/more hate relationship with that voice of self doubt. Truth be told, I find it to be a demon. And while there is some comfort in my belief that everyone has that demon-within voice, that knowledge alone doesn’t help me deal with it. Sure, at times it keeps me safe: sometimes making sure I don’t do something dumb, crazy, or too far outside the lines. In some cases, that voice is really valuable. It keeps me from jumping from a second-floor deck into the pool after a few margaritas (mostly not a true story). But for the creative soul, risk and outside the lines are what life is all about. (more…)


There’s something about an image that captures a moment at its peak. Whether it’s the perfect expression, an event never to be repeated, or in my case, a gallon of milk thrown through the air, a photographer’s job is to capture that perfect moment. I recently shot a billboard campaign for a milk company in which I was tasked with creating four images that captured important moments in a person’s life.


Each image featured milk splashes, which are an incredible challenge to capture. While I primarily use Westcott gear, when capturing action I turn to my Broncolor Scoro pack with two strip boxes on each side of the subject fairly close in. The Scoro pack allows me to shoot with a T1 flash duration of 8,000/sec., which I have found is the sweet spot for capturing perfectly sharp splashes.



Ciao people!

I’m Nicola Bernardi but please, call me Nico.
I’m a rather big, tall Italian dude that suspiciously looks like a thumb with a goatee.

I’m not the best at explaining what kind of stuff I shoot so.. I’ll just show you instead, ok?


When I got asked to be the guest blogger for this week I panicked. Like, big time. At first, I wanted to cram as much of my work as possible and promote myself like crazy.

“But c’mon Nico! You’re better than that!”
Fair enough. What to talk about then?
Let’s be inspirational, let’s inspire people with wise words, write something so deep and meaningful that’ll make people go, “OMG you totally got to me, you’re my new favorite thing in the world, nothing will ever be the same again, marry me!”

Perfect plan!

And so I wrote for a week. The more I wrote, the more delusions of grandeur I had thinking that this was going to be the next big TED talk. Standing ovation.
Me saying, “And that’s when it all changed for me,” sipping on fancy drinks with tiny umbrellas.


Talk about turning a scream for attention into a more refined, better worded, self indulgent request for even MORE attention!

Damn. Well played ego, I see what you did there. You almost had me for a second (actually, for a whole week).

Now, approximately half the people that started reading this blog post are already gone.
Raise your hand if you are dying to check Facebook for notifications…

The other half of you, the ones that are still reading, are probably asking themselves “So, where is this guy going with this, exactly?”

The point is: I don’t know.

If I did know what to talk about in front of the audience of this blog, I’d probably be a writer.
But I’m not. Instead, I’m a photographer.

Photography hasn’t always been in my life: I picked up my first camera a little over 5 years ago, while living in Japan.
Before that, I had always studied languages. Italian, English, German, Japanese.
Learning new languages is freaking awesome, especially if you are a naturally extroverted Italian kid that can’t shut up to save his life. More languages equals more people I can annoy with my never-ending “blablabla.”

When I started with photography, I couldn’t make sense of why it took over everything else in my life and became my drug, my sole obsession. Nothing could stand in its way.

Luckily, I didn’t ask myself too many questions and didn’t look for too many answers.
I just followed my heart. I wanted to take pictures SO BADLY, and that was enough for me.

Flash forward to 2 years ago. I was commissioned to take pictures of Savina, a dancer in London. The brief was quite simple: take good photos of this girl dancing, for her online presence and for casting purposes.

I flew to England and met her for the first time. The day before the shoot we scouted the location and got to know each other a little better. I was amazed by her true passion, the deep love she had for dancing, regardless of how many times she had been crushed in the pursuit of her dreams.

I was in awe the whole time. I felt I had a giant standing in front of me, an alien. Someone with a such a bright and strong fire in their belly couldn’t possibly be from the same planet as me. And I felt I couldn’t just take photos of her dancing, It had to be more. I HAD to tell her story, I HAD to let everyone else about her passion, drive, strength. And about her fragility, her humanity.


These photos changed me forever.
For the first time, I didn’t just capture the subject that was in front of me.
I had told a story. HER story.
And in doing that, I had found the humanity in this giant, in this incredible amazing artist, the only point where I could finally connect with her.
I had finally found my voice. Or better, my message.
And all of a sudden, it became pretty clear why photography came into my life after studying languages and wiped absolutely everything else away from the get go: it was the new language that I had just began studying.

Because you know what? Photography IS a language!
Think about it: when you start learning a new language, the first thing you are faced with are grammar and vocabulary. It takes some time and some studying before you are even remotely able to put a sentence together. At first, all the crazy grammar rules of a new language make NO SENSE. The new words that you learn sound so weird, so hard to remember. Almost impossible to link to the ones that you know.

And it’s no different when it comes to photography: when a camera magically appears for the first time in your hands, your photos are… let’s say, sloppy. You start reading about ISO, Aperture, Shutter speeds. It makes little to no sense.
Add lighting for the first time because you saw someone mention flash on YouTube and you find yourself banging your head on the wall in desperation: Inverse square law? Light source to subject ratio? Modifiers? Oh god.

When first studying a language, you feel like even after giving your sweat and tears for it, you can’t yet put two words together to say even the simplest of things. But as time goes by, things start to make sense. You start acquiring the grammar, you master some vocabulary.
You start with simple sentences. With time, energy and experience, you start making sense of the new language. And so goes for photography: the technicalities become second nature. You begin to know WHY you choose a certain ISO, Aperture or Shutter speed. You understand WHY you want to use a certain lens and not another. Flash, that once was your nemesis, becomes your friend.

Congratulations, you have now learned a new language. You now KNOW photography.
But is that enough? Of course not. Absolutely not.

My father once told me these wise words while I was studying Japanese in University: “Nicola, knowing a language is a beautiful thing. But if you have nothing to say, no one will listen to you.”
And he was SO RIGHT.

But it wasn’t until I took Savina’s photos that I realized WHAT MY MESSAGE is. What is it that I talk about with my language, photography.

I have always been drawn to and surrounded myself with all these incredible people. Artists, musicians, performers, characters.
People that put so much love and passion in what they do, in what they truly believe in. And in doing so, they make the world a better place.

And regardless of the case, I have always felt like I wasn’t up to their level. I was always nothing more than a tiny man surrounded by giants. Photography gave me the words to tell the stories of these incredible people and to find the humanity in them, making me realize time after time that we do, in fact, come from the same planet.

Because photography is how I talk about things. Things that matter to me.
And the only thing that matters to me is PEOPLE. And how freaking amazing they are.
And you know what the most beautiful thing is? I’ll never run out of things to say!

Now, have a look at some of these beautiful giants that I’ve met.


If you’ve made it this far reading this WAY-TOO-LONG blog post, let me say something : THANK YOU.
Thank you so much for giving me some of your time, for allowing me to tell you my story and what my message is.

Lastly, let me ask you something: What do YOU talk about, with your language?


(A huge thank you to Scott Kelby, Brad Moore and all the team behind this amazing blog, you guys are teaching all of us SO MUCH time after time!)

Nicola is an Italian portrait photographer currently living in Melbourne, Australia. You can see more of his work at, and follow him on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.

Passion Tells the Story

We’d driven eight hours and gotten in later on Friday night than desired. We needed to be in place for the sunrise shoot the next morning, which with the alarm set for 04:45, we were ready to greet it. We’d been trying to make this shoot happen for a couple of months and had rescheduled it numerous times because of weather and smoke from a number of wildfires. While in theory if we got skunked, which does happen more times than not, we could reschedule the shoot again, but the time had been committed to now. So before turning off the lights for the night, sensors were cleaned, batteries charged and everything triple checked. The forecast for the next day was perfect so sleep came fast and hard. Then the alarm went off and it was time. We stepped out of the lodge with gear and coffee only to be greeted by overcast and a rainy mist. I looked up to see a low, dense coastal fog had rolled in and then I knew we were not going to see a sunrise. Off we went as if everything was going to plan. What other option is there? We were skunked this day, but as it turned out, the next morning the stars lined up, we flew and made the images we needed to tell the story.


What continues to push and inspire my photography is a passion to tell the story. My greatest joy still comes when a critter is in my viewfinder sharing their world with me, so I can share it with you. I’m very fortunate to indulge in this love nearly every day. Then a number of years back, our photographic world grew when a closet passion for aviation was able to enter my viewfinder. It came at the right time in our photographic lives when we had the time, photographic tool chest and room in the heart to chase it down as we have critters for over three decades. And it’s with that critter and landscape background that we approached aviation.


The correlations between the disciplines in our photography of critters and aviation are rather spooky. With critters it’s always been the relationship with the biologist as much as the critter that led to eventual success. With aviation, it’s the pilot as much as the aircraft that’s taking us in that same direction. The biologist and the pilot bring to life the story of the subjects who can’t speak for themselves. Because of this, just as our relationships with biologists have been the key to my photographic success with wildlife, it has turned out that our relationships with pilots are the reason for my success with aviation. And without any grand design, this all evolved into a book project, which at this time has no end point.


The Flying Passion – History Alive in Today’s Aviators actually wasn’t a book project in the beginning. It all started with Chris’ portrait, what was originally just going to be an article. We have been good friends for some time, I’d photographed him in his OY-1 Sentinel air to air long ago (thanks Jake!). Tracking down its history he learned it flew over the beaches of Iwo Jima on landing day in WWII! Chris has a deep passion for flying, aircraft and history, and especially sharing all of that and so much more with others. Well his portrait turned out pretty good and as we all know, when photographers make a photo that works, we attempt to repeat it. The next one went well too, so did number three and four (I’m now up to number 43). The single article morphed into a series and that, well you guessed it, morphed into the book. But Chris’ portrait set the criteria for those included in the book, which is how the name Flying Passion came to be.


As a visual storyteller sharing life’s events I’m so fortunate to witness, and the verbal stories I’m told, puts a huge load on my shoulders to share with others. It turns out taking the portraits is the easiest part of the book. Doing the interviews and writing up the accounts, now that’s a cranker! I think one pilot in particular really sums up the passion this project brings to my photography.


Don Rolf’s story in aviation began in Southern California when he was 17, in 1939. Back then he was flying around So Cal in a 1931 Waco delivering airplane parts. He flew out of Monrovia Airport, which is now a shopping mall. Don didn’t realize it but on one of his approaches into Monrovia, his photograph was captured in what turned out to be a very historic image taken by a young photographer, Clancy Hess. Clancy, as fate would have it, also flew that exact same Waco back then and became a famous Naval photographer shooting in the Pacific during WWII. He also became a dear friend of mine. On D Day+1 Don found himself on Omaha Beach, and, as life would have it, he was in a special unit with the Army, not the Air Corp. The unit worked their way across Europe and Don has quite the stories about his adventures. The storytelling turns solemn when Don comes up to the Battle of the Bulge. His unit had to crawl between the Allied and German lines on those dark, cold, snowy days. They were putting orange flagging into place to direct the aerial attack for the P-47 Thunderbolts when the weather cleared. Can you imagine, bullets and shells flying overhead in both directions because no one knew they were there?! He tells the tale all the way up to when the P-47s were directly overhead and making their runs. Here he goes silent. The rest of the story goes untold, so we can only assume it’s too dreadful to be told.


Well that exact same ’31 Waco that Don & Clancy and so many others flew in So Cal in the ‘30s still flies! It was restored by its current caretaker (as he prefers to say) and flown by our dear friend Warren. Sharon & I have flown many times in this gorgeous aircraft and have a real love affair with it. Warren being Warren, he seems to have vets gravitate to him and in this case, Don’s son reached out to Warren. Finding out that Warren owned the plane his dad had flown so long ago and that it still flies, he arranged to get his dad back into the Waco. Two months later Don was in Minot, ND with Warren at the stick flying him around. Don had the biggest smile you’d ever seen! Yes, Warren is very much a part of the Flying Passion project, as are Don and Clancy (who passed this last December). One aircraft touched the lives of these three aviators and time brought them all together. And our camera was there to tell their story. That’s what photography is all about!


And there are SO MANY thousands upon thousands of stories like this out there waiting to be told! We learned this decades ago with critters and it was reinforced when we started working with pilots. The living history they have to share is overwhelming! And any one person can’t do it all! There are some really dedicated individuals and organizations out there working to preserve this history, but as you might imagine that’s still not enough. As you might also imagine, just wanting to take on any personal project no matter what the subject takes more than just the desire. It’s what gets you started and what keeps you going, feeding your passion, but there are some gaps and that’s why we share all that we do. One photograph can change the world!


I’m very fortunate to have a special relationship with KelbyOne. (Hope you’re catching the drift, relationships are important in this business!) Sharing this story with them got them involved in my personal project and taking it to a new level. It first led to the production of our film, Warbirds and the Men Who Flew Them. The response was huge! From this we learned there is an audience on the edge of their seats (that in large part is you!) wanting to hear these stories and getting involved with it all. We’ve recognized the desire, so now we want to help with the tools to mix with that desire to take on that personal project.


We literally need an army of photographers / videographers out there to record the story of our living history! Don is 93 this year and like many WWII vets, is creeping up to the end of his storytelling years. With this pressing need and the response to Warbirds, KelbyOne and I have produced two new classes on Pilot Portraits and Air to Air Photography. The first one comes out tomorrow to get you involved in the storytelling process. Both of these classes are based on the assumption you’re new to all of this and take you from the start to the very end, covering the basics to the most advanced. Small flash and small planes, big flash and big planes and everything in between is covered. Yeah, there is that camera gear and technique stuff thrown about in the classes, but it’s also just as much about building that all-important relationship and telling the story. Both projects are from the heart as much as the camera bag.


Where do you start? Well in Pilot Portraits, you start by first making introductions and the simple portrait. Always working on making the uncommon from the common, we start at the hangar. With nothing more required than a camera and lens, I’ll show you by simply moving a subject back into a hangar you can find dramatic lighting to create that first portrait. That huge door wide open is a great light source and the hangar is a place pilots are very comfortable. Combining the two is how you introduce your skills and passion to the pilot that can lead to so much more, hopefully that air to air photo mission. In our Air to Air class, we also start in the beginning, which means on the ground. Light is what wraps up our visual storytelling and learning that on the ground is essential! How do you do that? You’ll see as we “fly” a model around looking at the light falling on it, the background and then the combo to tell the story. You learn just like the pilots do, in ground school before you take to the air. We’ve laid it all out for you so all you have to do is insert your passion to make it all come to life!


Photographers come to photography often thinking the f/stop, shutter speed and Photoshop are the biggest challenges to be conquered to be successful. Not to scare you, but that’s the easiest and simplest to master in this craft. It’s not till after you think you understand light that the challenge really becomes personal and the mastery creeps along. Because it is then you must invest the most important ingredient for improvement, time! Personal projects where you invest your heart, time and personality to tell the visual story are the true calling of photography. Stories unfold every second of every day around the world providing us all with an opportunity to explore and invest, to fail and succeed in and what I still feel is the grandest pursuit in life. The ball is now in your court to move forward, just remember, passion tells the story!

You can see more of Moose’s work at, and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Keep an eye out for his upcoming KelbyOne classes, Pilot Portraits and The Art of Air to Air!