Category Archives Guest Blogger


Thank you, Scott for letting me interrupt your guest blog series with some unnecessary foolishness.
Photographers are a weird bunch, which is why a daily comic strip centered around the business writes itself (or so I wish). For this guest blog I’ve decided to highlight 10 themes (some controversial) that have made for good comic fodder over the years.

1. Man vs. Machine
One of the six elements of comic strip humor is writing something that is “recognizable”. It’s no wonder then that this strip has become an all-time favorite to many…


OK, who HASN’T heard that before? By the way, I’m still look looking for an upright bass that will make me sound like Brian Bromberg.


2. Pro or Pro bono


That strip has been turned into a verb. My dad emailed me to let me know he was “WTD43’d” one time. Writing for one of the most unregulated industries provides a fair amount of material. Who’s a professional, who’s not and who cares?
The following strip is inspired by the second most asked question of photographers. (the first most asked question being: “Can I have a copy of that?”)


Don?t think…DO!

I’ve sat here for 15 minutes with absolutely NO idea what to write for you all. None.

I’ve gotten up, gone to my garden and smoked a cigarette. Sat down. Stared at the screen. Gotten back up. Smoked. Sat back down.

Then it struck me! Just go and write it.

Don’t think, do!

I’m fortunate enough to be in the position to have been asked to make a contribution to Scott’s site as as Guest Blogger, so I’m just going to WRITE IT!

And it’s going to be about exactly that principal in relation to photography. The principal of NOT planning, not getting tied up in details, not sweating the small stuff. The principal that sometimes, you just gotta throw your shoulders back, lift your chin, walk in the room with a smile and freaking shoot the thing! :)

I’ve found myself taking this approach increasingly this year. Having spent so many hours in the run up to previous shoots trying to pre-empt the un-pre-emptable, trying to predict how someone’s going to behave, how they’ll respond to the concept, to me, to the location or whatever. I’ve learned that I’ve been in SO MANY rooms with SO MANY different people and I’ve walked out with a picture that there is a great lesson to be learned from all of those shots.

Some of my best pictures, award winners, covers, exhibited works, have come from an idea COMPLETELY off plan and it was only through an ability to be flexible, to go with a different flow, that I’ve been fortunate enough to capture them. Now this isn’t a boast here. I’m not saying that this is a measure of some photographic zen quality. This isn’t even about ME, this is about all of us. In fact below are some examples of work which has come ‘off the cuff.’ What I’m trying to impart is that they are not the result of ANY photographic skill. They are simply in existance becauseIi was FLEXIBLE!. We are all flexible to some degree! We couldn’t cross a main street otherwise, and if we can build on that…ability, it can help enhance our work. Regardless of our lighting kit or our megapixel count.

A GREAT example!:

Last year I was commissioned to shoot Pete Doherty. My client had a PLAN! A detailed one! Now Pete has had his problems and they’re well documented. So when my client tried to brief me on exactly what they wanted I knew I had to just zone out, make ‘yes, yes’ noises and relax in the knowledge that if Mr D actually arrived at the shoot, and as long as I could connect with him and use the lighting skills that I have, we would make it work.

NOTHING went to plan :)

He did arrive and we did connect (I still have the Union Jack neck scarf he gave me permanently around the head of my tripod) and the resulting set of pictures have won enough stuff and been hung in galleries in London. If I had worried about the ‘plan’ we would have probably not shot a thing.


With the same mindset I recently shot for a blue chip corporate client: VODAFONE. The brief moved two or three times in pre-production, the deadline was incredibly tight for post production and the talent list was Florence of Florence And The Machine, F1 superstar Jenson Button and supermodel and actress Lily Cole. The call time was 6am, Jenson was flying in from Montreal having come 2nd in the Canadian Grand Prix and he would be with us for ‘1 HOUR EXACTLY.’ We would have all three together for 20 minutes. The brief moved again :). The deadline got tighter and ‘Did I think everything would be okay?’ :)

Now at this point I had to just remind myself that the job was Lily, Jenson and Florence TOGETHER and the fact was that, again, if they all turned up and if I connected with them then really, with such huge names, it would shoot itself. There was simply no point worrying about what COULD go wrong because if something DID go wrong (ie Jenson’s flight) we would just have to DEAL with it somehow.

“It’s all going to be fine,” I assured my client. Picture below :)

Vodafone UK announces major new sponsorship deals giving custome

And when it does go wrong? Like when you’re commissioned to shoot a TV personality with a leopard and the day before the shoot a volcano erupts in Iceland meaning that you arrive at the studio to find you have a leopard…and no TV personality?

Well, you shoot the leopard…and shoot the personality two weeks later :):

LOUISE REDKNAPP photographed by John Wright

So now I’m thinking…’This applies to everything I do…or at least I should APPLY it to everything I do!’

How many hours have I sat around OVER THINKING what I should do next only to find that when I have to act, I act positively!? More importantly, how many hours have YOU sat around pondering “What shall I shoot?…How will I contact that magazine?…How should I light this? only to find that when you PUT yourself in front of the subject you wanted to shoot, YOU DID FINE!

Gordon Ramsay

Okay you could have improved something by doing this or changing that, but that’s called ‘experience,’ and you’ve learned from it, and it’ll be better the next time BECAUSE you put yourself in the situation in the FIRST place :)


What I’m saying is let’s all STOP trying to work out how to ‘get that client’ and ‘what if my portfolio appointment goes flat’ and ‘how can I light this or that’ or ‘would it be better if I had x camera?’ and let’s just get on with DOING this great, weird, difficult, delightful thing that is photography. Let’s go to places people only dream of, meet people who have inspired and outraged and shocked and entertained us, let’s just capture moments that will never ever ever EVER happen again. Let’s see what happens if we ‘open up a stop’ or ‘turn that head off’ and if we do, if we just throw our shoulders back, lift our chins, walk in the room with a smile and just shoot the freaking thing! I really believe that all the rest of it, will look after itself.


Thanks to Scott and Brad for letting me write this and many many thanks to you for taking
the time to read it!

John Wright


It’s an honor to be included as a guest blogger for Scott Kelby!  Since there is no higher blogging status, I thought long and hard about what to include here.  I decided on some background, some humor and hopefully some inspiration.


I’m an editorial and commercial photographer based in Colorado.  My photo career began as a journalism major in school, but took a turn towards the wild side…literally.  My passion was and still is adventure sports.  After school I set off to travel the globe climbing mountains and kayaking rivers, spending years guiding in the backcountry.  I traveled with camera in hand, documenting expeditions and attempting to capture the mood, atmosphere and drama that was taking place around me.  My guiding skills put me in spectacular locations for shooting, my photography skills progressed to help me capture the moment.



But some moments I couldn’t capture.  I took part in an Indo-American expedition to climb Nanda Devi, a 25,000 foot peak in the Indian Himalayas.  We established one camp on a narrow ridge around 20,000’.  I knew this location would make a great shot of our tents perched on the icy ridge with the summit in the distance.  We had a full moon, so I went out at night along the ridge to photograph our tents illuminated by headlamps.  As I set up in the dark, I kept hearing noises right behind me.  I was sure it was the wind….until I heard the heavy breathing.  Now this might sound like an abominable snowman encounter, and at the time I was sure it was.  I looked over my shoulder and saw something big moving in the shadows, coming right towards me.

That moment was almost the end of my photo career and me as I practically fell off the ridge running back to my tent.  Running at 20,000’ on an icy ridge is like breathing through a straw while jogging on a balance beam at sea level; you almost pass out and fall off due to lack of oxygen.  The next morning we discovered the identity of the mystery creature.  A snow leopard had been in camp, walking right over my shooting spot from the night before.  I don’t have a single image from that night.  But I remember it like it was yesterday.  That is one reason I love photography.  It is a catalyst for producing experiences I otherwise would never have.

I think many adventure sports photographers juggle the balance between wanting to climb/kayak and the desire to create images of these activities.  When I first started shooting, climbing outweighed photography.  Now the opposite is true.  I will always like to climb and paddle, but my desire to create images of these activities dominates my choices.  Everyone who shoots feels this drive at some level.  You just don’t feel satisfied until you have camera in hand creating new work. It is more important to share these experiences with others than participate in them. This creative process is as important to me as the outcome.  Constant shooting develops the nuances of my creativity and technical skills.


When I teach workshops I am often asked what is the most important thing to do in developing your skills as a photographer.  My answer is stay true to your vision and continually shoot.  We all need work to survive financially, but shooting on your own time, especially personal projects, is good for the soul and your creativity.  Your technical skills will be more tangible to track, but your creative style takes time to develop and is harder to evaluate.  You may not know it at the time, but personal projects define your style and vision down the road.  It is easy to talk about your next project and what you are going to shoot, but you don’t progress if you don’t shoot.  I’ve come to realize non-paying personal projects are equally as important as paying jobs.  I need them both to survive and grow as a photographer.

This concept has lead me to where I am today.  I’m obsessed with exploring light, especially applying strobe in outdoor sports.   I think waiting out so many storms and cloudy skies through the years got me thinking there must be another way.  I love experimenting with different lighting styles to add impact to my images.  The more I learn about lighting, the more I realize I don’t know.  The subtitles of lighting are endless.



Using 4000 watts of power near raging rivers can present some interesting technical and safety issues.  I have kayaker friends who will gladly paddle off huge waterfalls without hesitation, but when I ask them to pose with lots of wattage near the water they get nervous.  Maybe they know something I don’t?  So far I have only had one flash head float down a river.  I was able to grab the light before it pulled the pack into the river.  We often put our flash packs in waterproof dry bags used by rafters.  This protects packs from quick dips in the river.


My goal with lighting in adventure sports is to add more drama and adrenaline to the sport being captured.  Sometimes all that is needed is a pop from a beauty dish to add a little snap to the shot.  Other times multiple edgy light sources are used for impact.  Lighting ratios go from near fill flash to minus two or more for the ambient light.  Often the hardest part is getting lights in place across a river or up on a rock wall.  And not breaking any gear.


Photography has allowed me to pursue my dreams, meet new people, experience new cultures and learn a lot along the way.  I’m not sure where this career will take me, but I’m along for the ride.  I just hope there aren’t anymore leopards in the path.

You can see more of Tom’s work at, and keep an eye out for upcoming Kelby Training Online adventure photography classes from Tom as well!

Photo by Derek Wood

Hello, my name is Ryan and I am a photographer living and working in Los Angeles. My background spans everything from shooting natural light, street photos in black and white film, to the staged tableau that you will see below. The goal of each photo is to create a narrative which has a specific concept, but also allows the viewer to develop their own story.

A common question I’m asked about my work is whether or not it is the result of a Photoshop composite. Generally I would prefer not to spend time behind the computer and so the goal of each shoot is to capture as much as possible in one frame. With the larger group photos there are many people involved and inevitably different frames are pieced together in order to get the best expressions or actions from each character but everything is shot and lit at one time. Here I’ve illustrated one example with a diagram to show you exactly how it was lit. I would also like to open up the remainder of this post to any additional questions you may have about this photo or others from my site. The beauty of this blog seems to be the interaction amongst the readers and I’d love to create a dialogue about whichever topic interests you all the most so please feel free to ask anything tech-related or not.

Here’s a short behind the scenes video of the shoot:

(Click to see REALLY big for all the details)


Lighting Legend:
1: Profoto at palm tree over van
2: Profoto at 3 marching band members outside of van
3: Profoto at man holding flowers
4: Profoto inside of van
5: Profoto behind building shining through back window
6: Profoto behind back wall, bounced off ceiling
7: Slave Light Bulb in ceiling fixture
8: Slave Light Bulb in ceiling fixture
9: Profoto in bushes on woman in pink dress
10: Slave Light Bulb in ceiling fixture
11: Profoto on roof at man with flowers
12: Lumedyne mounted in ceiling at woman in back booth
13: Slave Light Bulb in ceiling fixture
14: Lumedyne mounted in ceiling, hairlight for woman in pink
15: Slave Light Bulb in ceiling fixture
16: Slave Light Bulb in ceiling fixture
17: Lumedyne mounted in celing on woman at cash register
18: Slave Light Bulb in ceiling fixture
19: Slave Light Bulb in ceiling fixture
20: Profoto with green gel bounced off ceiling in back kitchen
21: Slave Light Bulb in ceiling fixture
22: Profoto on waitress spilling food
23: Profoto on marching band members in front
24: Profoto on marching band members in front

Leave a comment with your question(s) and comments, and I’ll respond to as many as I can as quickly as I can.

To see more of Ryan’s work, check out his website and keep up with him at his blog!


Wow. Let me tell you, I never thought this would happen. Guest blogging for Scott Kelby didn’t even come into my dreams it was so crazy. It is an incredible honor to be able to talk about my photography to so many people, and to follow the long list of fantastic photographers that make up the Scott Kelby guest blog “Hall of Fame.”

I started taking pictures about 4 years ago, around my 12th birthday. My family was just about to go on vacation to Arizona, and right beforehand I got an Olympus C-765 UZ. It was my second digital camera (the first was a Fujifilm, but it broke pretty quickly). I don’t really know what prompted my initial interest in photography. I like to think it was the thrill of capturing a moment in time and being able to revisit again and again. I think that’s why we all take pictures.

So in Arizona, I took some “pictures.” They weren’t up to “photograph” level quite yet. As you can see, I had the eye, but there was a journey ahead.



One person that I can’t credit enough for my photography is my Aunt Janet. She has been there EVERY step of the way helping me, encouraging me, and carting me around to wherever we decided to go. I don’t think I’d be a photographer at all had it not been for her. And even though I probably mess her up a lot and get in her shots, she sticks with me and she’s the best photo partner anyone could ever have.

So with Aunt Janet’s help, we both grew as photographers. It seemed like almost every weekend we went on photo “expeditions” to various places around our beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. I think I learned more in a weekend of shooting than I did in a week of school!

Another important source of information was books. I ate ’em up. I loved to read about photography, and I think that, besides just getting out and shooting, is the best way to get better. Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography books were huge in developing my photography. I don’t think I’ve learned so much from a single book than I have from that first edition. It was like a whole new world, ready to be explored. And that book was the gateway. I soon started watching Photoshop tutorial videos with Aunt Janet from Practicing my skills in both areas, the shooting aspect and the processing aspect, I was slowly inching toward making “photographs.”

Reading, watching videos, and just getting out and experimenting pretty much summed the next twelve months of my photography. This was also the period that I got my Nikon D80, which really set me free creatively. Point-and-shoots are nice for when you want to do exactly that, point and shoot, but there is no replacement for a good SLR. And again I have to thank Aunt Janet. I remember asking my parents often for a new camera, even bargaining that I would pay for most of it.

(Here’s a little note: Being a young photographer, I didn’t (don’t) really have any income. Which means, the money I did get, went straight into photography. Other kids wanted PS3s? Yeah, I’ll go for a new tripod).

When considering a D80 for a Christmas present, my Mom asked Aunt Janet if she thought I would be responsible and take care of it, she responded with enthusiasm that she knew I would take care of my camera better than I take care of anything else. Thanks again, Aunt Janet. I owe you about ten billion.

Here’s a couple shots with my then new D80. I was starting to get the hang of editing.



After a while, my Aunt and I were tired of shooting locally, so we went on a trip to the Grand Tetons, then the next year to Yosemite National Park. They were both week long trips and well worth the price of getting out there. It’s amazing how much you can learn from a week of shooting. It was also nice to worry only about photography, and not about seeing museums or anything like that. Going with a fellow photographer means you can spend a couple hours at a location without people getting bored!





When we got back from the Tetons, we decided to exhibit in the art show here in town. We signed up, framed and matted our prints, and showed up on a Saturday morning. We did pretty well! I forget how many we sold, but we were fortunate to have friends and family come and support us, and a few even bought some. It was a great experience and very encouraging. One of my shots was picked to go on the Judges’ Fence. This was the first award of any kind I’d ever won. The show was also a fantastic way to meet area photographers and to see some really great work from local artists and photographers.

My next opportunity came last year when my brother, a french horn player in the Princeton University Orchestra, toured Europe, playing in Germany and the Czech Republic. My family went along and it gave me an opportunity to shoot in another country. This trip was different, because with my family, you can’t spend a long time anywhere, because they get bored, even though the light is just about to be perfect. Sometimes frustrating, but totally worth it. Here’s my favorite shot from the trip. (NOTE: I entered this one in the annual local photography contest a few weeks ago and this one won best in show out of over 300 other photographs! My first “real” award!)


Most recently, I’ve been working on a little bit of portrait photography. Reading and watching Kelby Training videos has taught me so much about lighting and flash. I asked my friend, Jabez, if he’d go out in the country and model for me. He brought his guitar and we were both having a great time. I snapped some, changed the light a bit, snapped some more. You don’t have to make it a huge deal if you don’t want to! Just get out there and try it! Here’s my favorite from the day.


With a few good shots in my arsenal, I decided to apply for the NANPA High School Scholarship program. I had read about it the year before, but wasn’t eligible to enter because I wasn’t quite old enough. I sent in ten shots, wrote a few essays and forgot about the whole thing. Four months later, I got an email telling me that I was one of ten high schoolers in the country accepted for the program! Talk about excitement!

It was a week long event, consisting of two days of shooting then 3-4 days of conference time. All the shooting was with Canon provided equipment (before I went, I thought that was going to be a problem, but it turned out that I really liked the 7D). We got to use both the 600mm and 800mm Canon lenses, along with 4 other lenses we carried in our bag. In the two days, we were guided and helped by pro photographers to Lake Tahoe, Swan Lake, Pyramid Lake, and Fly Geyser. We met many professional photographers, George Lepp, Robert Shepherd, Joel Sartore, and Arthur Morris. We also met with editors from National Geographic, representatives from stock agencies, and commercial photographers. It was really a fantastic program for the ten of us and we all became really great friends. Hands down, the best experience I’ve ever had. If any of you know high school or college students interested in photography, make sure they check out the NANPA Scholarship. Here are some from the two days of shooting.



In recent months, Aunt Janet and I have started a photo club in our town, which is held in our church building. Through Flickr, we’ve found great photographers in the area and come together, beginners and experienced alike, every month to talk about photography, hold critiques, and listen to wonderful guest speakers. If you don’t currently have a club or something of the sort in your city or town, I would encourage you to start one. It’s not difficult! Just bring photographers together and it can go on for hours! When preparing to teach a lesson, I find myself learning a lot, even when I think I know a lot about the material. If you’re going on a Scott Kelby Photo Walk, talk to your leaders and the other people in your group to see if they’re interested. Even the best photographers have something to learn and it’s a great way to share your knowledge while continuing to get better.

I am grateful to you guys for reading what seems like a pretty boring post. The main thing I want you to do, is to do what Aunt Janet did for me, and find an apprentice, a pupil. Somebody young that has either talent or interest in photography. Help them, encourage them, and shoot with them and I promise you will become a better photographer for your efforts.

Thank you so much, Scott, for this amazing opportunity. I’m continually amazed at what a (as you would say) “stand up” guy you are. I hope to one day meet you in person. And Brad, thanks for the help in figuring what a 15-year-old kid can say to a bunch of experienced photographers. And thanks to Alex, who suggested the idea of having me guest blog. You are continually a source of inspiration and encouragement.

As a final note, in preparation for my post, I read Jeremy Cowart’s fantastic guest blog. Summed up, Jeremy’s opening paragraph stated, if you want it bad enough, get off your tail and do something to move forward. Let’s do something to move forward.

You can check out Andy and his Aunt Janet’s website at


Yesterday’s Guest Blog post from Ali was everything that the Guest Blog day is all about—-taking the day—making it your own—-touching us, inspiring us, and teaching us. Ali did all three (as I knew he would).

Thank you Ali for sharing a side of your beautiful country we rarely see. Yesterday you made thousands of Americans view Iran in a new light, and one day I hope we’re there as guests to photograph it with you, and to shake your hand in person.


P.S. When my Lightroom 3 book, and my Photoshop CS5 book come out, I’m shipping you a box of each for you, your fellow teachers, and your students.