Category Archives Lightroom


I saw that comment a number of times in the comments on my “What I’d Love To See in Lightroom 4” post from Friday (link).

Since most photographers that read this blog, and well…most pro photographers in general (as we’ll discuss in a moment), use Lightroom, I was kind of surprised to read those responses, especially since I rarely see any mention of Aperture here on this blog at all.

Then I found out why my blog was suddenly getting visits from Aperture fans. The Aperture Users Network web site wrote a post (link) with the headline:

“Scott Kelby Pleas with Adobe to Make Lightroom More Like Aperture.”

With a link back to my post.

After reading that headline, I now fully understand the meaning of “Spin.”

A more accurate headline might have been “Scott Kelby Wants Some of Aperture’s Slideshow features and their Book feature added to Lightroom.”

I’ve been using Aperture since Aperture 1.0
As I’ve noted previously on this blog, I do sometimes use Aperture. So, why don’t I just switch?

It’s because I only like Aperture better for one feature—making photo books. I don’t use it for anything else (I do my slideshows in iPhoto).

If instead I had written the article “What I’d love to See in Aperture 4” my wish list would have been a lot longer, and it would have started with performance issues, which I feel has always been Aperture’s Achilles heel. For example, here’s a comment posted to that same article referenced above on the Aperture Users Network from an existing Aperture user:

“…frankly, I get frustrated more often by the lack of performance of Aperture and it’s temper, than I get delighted with it’s features and nice workflow.”

Plus, if I had written an Aperture 4 wish list article, it would have gone on to include features already in Lightroom that Aperture doesn’t do well, or doesn’t do at all, like: automated and manual lens correction and perspective correction, or snapshots and history for your edits, or supporting multiple adjustments with one brush stroke like Lightroom’s Adjustment Brush, or built-in Camera profiles to emulate Nikon/Canon in-camera looks, or a fast responsive crop tool, or crop tool overlays for composition, or setting your default adjustment settings by camera model, camera serial number or image ISO, or expertly-tuned sharpening on output, or saving your print layouts as JPEGs so you can send them to a photo lab, and I could go on and on and on.

Not to mention that there’s a massive worldwide community built around using Lightroom and supporting Lightroom users, and you can find tons of presets, plug-ins, advice, training books, live seminars, hands-on workshops, and even its own conference available to Lightroom users, that simply doesn’t exist on that scale for Aperture users (and did I mention that Aperture isn’t even available on the Windows platform at all?).

Of course, if I had written that article many people would have said: “Why don’t you just switch to Lightroom 3?”

It’s Not Just Me
Let’s set aside my feelings on Lightroom for a moment, and look at a bigger picture. Who is using Lightroom and who is using Aperture?

An independent study by InfoTrends looked at which programs pros are using to process their raw images. Here’s what they found:

In 2009 (the most current year for which statistics are available) here’s what the pros use:

Lightroom: 37%

Aperture: 6.3% (down from 7.5% the previous year, so their pro user base is actually shrinking).

Now, although Lightroom is available for both PCs and Macs, Aperture is only available on Macs, and you’d think that would help its case quite a bit, but it actually gets worse when you just compare what Mac users are using. Here are InfoTrend’s results when you just look at pro photographers using Macs:

Lightroom: 44.4%

Aperture: 12.5% (down from 14.6% the previous year, so their pro user base is actually shrinking on the Mac, too).

So why are pros choosing Lightroom nearly 4 to 1 over Aperture? Why aren’t they all just switching to Aperture 3 like the Aperture User Network fans are suggesting?

There’s a reason.

Here’s a comment from one of my readers, and frequent commenter, Omar D. Rivero, who wrote:

“I agree Scott. Aperture’s slideshow and photo book capabilities run circles around Lightroom’s. But as Lightroom is critical in my workflow, Aperture becomes a very expensive slideshow creator.”

When it comes to editing your raw images, Adobe’s Camera Raw (which is built into Lightroom—that’s what the Develop Module is—Camera Raw) is the industry standard for processing raw images. Period. It’s the heart of Lightroom, and the way it works with Photoshop (a seamless roundtrip) and how you can keep the Raw Editing capabilities by opening your Lightroom Raw images in Photoshop as a Smart Object makes it a critical part of most pros workflows. In fact, about 4 to 1.

I’m No Aperture Hater
Here’s the thing—-I think Aperture 3 is actually a good program. I think its book feature is absolutely fantastic (I use it myself), and Omar’s right—their slideshow module does run rings around Lightroom’s, which is why I brought up both in my original post.

While some of those features on my wish list are in Aperture, some of my wish list features are in Photo Mechanic—and not available in Aperture. (So why didn’t somebody write the headline “Scott Kelby Pleas with Adobe to Make Lightroom More Like Photo Mechanic”)? In fact, there are some features in the iPad App “Photogene” that I’d like to see in Adobe Photoshop CS5. Should should I switch to Photogene because it has a few features I’d love to have in Photoshop?

Switching Isn’t an Option
Right now Aperture 3 has a few features I would love to see in Lightroom, yet it wouldn’t make sense to switch because at this point in time it has a few features Lightroom doesn’t.

But just for a moment, let’s pretend I did switch. Well…I’d have to change my entire workflow, import all my photos from scratch, learn a new program—a new user interface, their raw image editor, their keyboard shortcuts, their file management, and so on. It would take a while, and I wouldn’t be as proficient as I am in Lightroom because I’ve been using it for years, but I imagine I could get pretty decent after a while.

Then Adobe releases Lightroom 4, and what if it winds up having a great photo books feature and a better slideshow than Aperture’s, and some other features that Aperture doesn’t have? Do I then switch back to Lightroom, pay for the upgrade, and change my entire workflow again because it has 10% more features than Aperture 3?

But then what if six months later, here comes Aperture 4 and it has 10% more features than Lightroom 4. Do I pay for that upgrade and switch back? Do you see where I’m going with this? Your time is too valuable, and the learning curve too steep to play the “chasing features” game each time one comes up with a feature or two the other program doesn’t have. Yet.

I didn’t say Lightroom Was Way Off. I Said it was “This Close!”
I love Lightroom. Love it! Do I want some additional features added? Absolutely—that’s what my post was all about, but my “Plea to Adobe” part was all about this—Lightroom is so good, that it’s “This Close” to being perfect! I want Adobe to just take that extra step. Swing for the fence. Add those little things (and a few big things) that would take it over the top. You’re “This Close!”

Don’t be an Aperture Hater
There’s no reason to hate Aperture. Competition like this breeds innovation, and both groups of users will wind up with a better program because of it.

Either way, since you know it’s my personal preference to use Lightroom, you can stop trying to convince me to switch, just like I’m not trying to convince Aperture users to switch to Lightroom (that’s Adobe’s job).

So, I hope that lets you know where I stand and why. After this post, I hope the Aperture Users Network (link) crew doesn’t feel the same way about me that the guys over at did after my “Shooting on the Sidelines with Scott & Mike Contest” from last year (which incidentally, there is no way in heck I’m doing that contest again this year. I can only absorb so many slings and arrows in a 12 month period). ;-)

P.S. You guys posted some great wish list ideas of your own on Friday (there are over 200 comments), and I’ll be sharing some of my favorites in a post later this week.


OK, I know we’re a long way from the next version of Lightroom, but since Lightroom 3 has now shipped, I’m sure Adobe is already thinking about what’s going to be in the next version of Lightroom (which I imagine they’ll call Lightroom 4, but hey—ya never know).

Anyway, as much as I love Lightroom 3 (and I truly do), there are still some features I would dearly love to see make their way into Lightroom 4, and from taking my Lightroom 3 Live Tour on the road this year, I’ve heard from a lot of real world users about what’s next on their Lightroom wish list, too.

Carrying Your Message Forward
I’ve always felt like the regular photographer’s advocate when it comes to Lightroom. I know Adobe gets a lot of input from its high-end users, so when I pass these on (and have just sent this list directly to Adobe’s Lightroom Product Manager Tom Hogarty, who’s a really great guy by the way, and very committed to making Lightroom rock), I’m not just passing on my requests, but I’m also representing the wedding photographers in Atlanta, the senior portrait photographers from San Antonio, the landscape photographers from Manchester, and the travel photographers from Tucson.

I’ll start with the most requested and most important features, and then go module by module from there. Here goes:


(1) Photo Book Creation & Printing
I have to keep Apple’s Aperture 3 on my computer just so I can make photo books, because Aperture does a really brilliant job with photo book creation and printing. We need that same feature in Lightroom 4. But Adobe, I’m begging you, hire some amazing layout artists to create custom  book templates, so we can just drag and drop in our images and they look great. Give us fine art layouts, multiple wedding book layouts, proofing book layouts, travel layouts, and give us lots of them, all designed by top designers. Make the process painless, like Aperture has, with total flexibility to edit the templates the way we want, and then it’s just one click to upload the completed book and have it printed.

(2) A Great Slideshow Module
With all the tweaks Adobe has made to the slideshow module since Lightroom 1, it’s still the most limited slideshow on the planet (Apple’s free iPhoto application’s slideshow feature totally kicks Lightroom’s butt. In fact, I defy you to find any photo application from any company that offers a slideshow feature that doesn’t beat Lightroom’s hands down. That’s just not right). Everything they’ve done in Lightroom 2 and 3 thus far are just fixes to things that should have been there in the Slideshow module in Lightroom 1. We need someone at Adobe to say, “If this is going to be “the” program for photographers, we need to have a kick-butt slideshow module.” They won’t need 50 features to get there, but will they need at least these five:

(1) The ability to have more than one image per slide. A very popular layout for portfolio presentations, but of course, you can’t do that in Lightroom.

(2) You need to be able to sync the changing of a slide to a beat in the music (Apple’s Aperture does this brilliantly—you just play the background music, and tap a key on the keyboard when you want the slide to catch in time with the music. Couldn’t be easier). In fact, if anybody at Adobe is reading this, click on this link to see a demo slideshow from Apple made with Aperture’s slideshow feature. At least watch the one called “Holt County Fair” and maybe the Wedding slideshow demo. See that? That’s what we want to do, with the same degree of ease as Aperture.

(3) Give us a narration audio track, so if we want to tell a story, or do an interview with the person we’ve photographed, or want background audio from where we shot, we can add that on top of our background music. We need “ducking” too, so we can have the background music lower as the narration starts.

(4) We need real title slides—ones that stay on screen for more than a split second. Ones that we can customize every aspect of, from how long they appear on screen, to their background color, to lots of type control, to even using a backscreened image as a title. Also, let us add type on some slides that doesn’t appear on other slides, so if we need to start a new segment of our slideshow, we don’t have to go to Photoshop to create a custom slide and reimport it back into Lightroom. Plus, I want the ability to put a stroke around just the photos I choose, instead of applying a stroke to either every photo or no photos.

(5) Let us choose whether to cut or dissolve to the next slide. Give us “Ken Burns” like motion. Give us a few clever transitions. Make us actually want to make our slideshows in Lightroom.

(3) Decent Type Controls
I can’t think of a program that has more limited type features than Lightroom. Apple’s free “Stickies” widget has type controls that run circles around Lightroom’s, which is sad. So does any mail application (Aren’t you the guys that kind of invented modern day typography?). Don’t worry—we don’t need all the Type features of Photoshop, but we need the ability to create and easily edit multiple line text blocks we can position and size anywhere, and the ability to control tracking and leading. There is no other Adobe product where type is anywhere as limited as it is in Lightroom, so help us out and at least give us some minimal type control.

(4) Basic Video Editing
We just need what Aperture 3 has; simple trimming, previewing right within Lightroom, and the ability to mix video and still images in a simple slideshow. Don’t stuff a stripped down version of Adobe Premiere in there—we just need to be able to create and share simple slideshows with video. We’re photographers—if we want to do more serious video stuff, we’ll buy Premiere, but for now, just let us use the video we’re shooting with our DSLRs.

(4) Soft Proofing
I’m not a soft proofing guy on any level, but I hear from many photographers out there who would put this at the top of their wish list, so it would have to be included in the list of the biggies, even if it’s a feature I personally will never use. This is one case where soft proofing in Lightroom will have to be dramatically better than the soft proofing in Aperture 3 to be of any real value, but luckily Adobe totally has the vision and engineering muscle to make that happen, if they really want to. Soft Proofing alone will drive a lot of upgrades, which should be motivation enough.

(5) A Networked Lightroom
I have never done a Lightroom seminar where I didn’t get three or four people asking if there is a client/server version of Lightroom (where a group of people can all work on the same Lightroom catalog at the same time), so I know there are photographers who would put this at the top if their list. That being said, personally, I don’t think there’s a chance in %$#@ that we’ll see this in Lightroom 4. I don’t think the foundation of Lightroom was ever designed to become networkable, which means they’d almost have to create a separate version from scratch, and I just don’t see that happening. Of course, I could be totally wrong. Still, this would make a lot of photographer’s dreams come true.

(6) Built-in HDR
I know this just got added to Photoshop CS5, so you know and I know there’s no chance it’s going to be in Lightroom 4, but I thought it would be fun just to add it any way. Kind of a “prank” feature request, because we all know it’s not gonna happen.

(7) Automated Backup
A lot of people really struggle with this, and never really know if their catalog and photos are really backed up. Can we have a simple (really simple) and complete, automated backup so we can all finally sleep at night?

Now, onto the Module Specific wish list:


  • Can we finally have the Stacking feature in Collections? It’s in Folders, why can’t we have it in collections?
  • Can you make the Quick Develop panel have sliders, so we’ll actually use it? Those one-click buttons are sheer misery. I can’t tell you how many people complain that they don’t use Quick Develop for that very reason.
  • Can we change catalogs without having to quit and restart Lightroom? Is there another program out there for anything that has to quit and restart in the regular course of business and not from a crash? Seriously.
  • Cut the cord and make the shortcuts for the modules be the first letter of each word. You “D” for Develop, which makes sense, so you’d think “S” would be for slideshow right? Nope—it’s Option-Command-3 (of course, why I didn’t I think of that). Can’t we have L for Library, D for Develop, S for Slideshow, and so on. You’ll be doing the legions of people who will wind up coming over to Lightroom a world of good, and the rest of us already using Lightroom will adjust. Or, just give us the ability to create our own keyboard shortcuts (like we can in Photoshop).
  • I want a Light Table feature. I always have. No, it’s not terribly efficient—it’s just fun. There’s nothing wrong with fun.
  • Please give us a menu command for getting to these existing features: Creating Watermarks, Getting to the Export Actions Folder, Creating Metadata Templates and Naming Templates. Also, give us a simple way to delete any saved template without jumping through a bunch of hoops.
  • Can we finally just click on a file’s name in the Grid, and change it’s name? You can do that in the Bridge—why not in Lightroom?
  • For the Tethered Capture Heads Up Display, can you put a button that switches the HUD to a vertical layout, so we can tuck it over to the left or right side of the screen, so it doesn’t end up going right over my image, covering part of it up?
  • Sports photographers all use Photo Mechanic for two reasons: (1) They have built-in captioning macros, which make adding the required metadata the wire services require a breeze. It’s brutal in Lightroom (like you have no idea). And (2) Your thumbnails appear faster in Photo Mechanic, and so you’re already entering your captions while the Lightroom guys are waiting for their thumbnails to load. I don’t know a single pro sports photographer not using PhotoMechanic, and that just kills me. Both can be fixed (if Adobe really wants that business).
  • We need to be able to email an image directly from within Lightroom. Not exporting and passing it off to some email application—I mean, click on the photo, click the email button, then  all you do is enter the recipient’s email and hit send.


  • Give us a module for creating Duotone, Tritones and Quadtones (so we can stop faking it in the Split Toning panel).
  • I want to be able to toggle through the different White Balance presets and see image update full size as I highlight each one (using the up/down arrow keys on my keyboard).
  • I want the same quality of preview for Sharpening that we get in Photoshop, no matter what the zoom view I’m looking at. Photoshop does a nice job of this. Lightroom…..not so much.
  • I would love a High Pass Sharpening panel.

SLIDESHOW MODULE (already covered up in the biggies section above)


  • We need the ability to add a drop shadow behind images, just like in the Slideshow module
  • We need to be able to add a backscreened image (we need this for wedding book layouts desperately!
  • We need a one click button to create a full bleed image (overriding the Page Set-up settings).
  • Creating New Page Set-up presets for page sizes works counter-intuitively. Watch someone try to make one, and you’ll see what we mean.
  • We need to be able to add more than one graphic element to a page (so, more than one logo, or a logo and a graphic swatch or something. Being locked down to just one graphic makes it really tough to make compelling layouts. Of course, give us real type control (mentioned up in The Biggies) would be a huge boon here.
  • Give us the ability to add a Mat around our images. In fact, give us a Mat panel, with lots of controls (this is especially handy if you send your images to a lab to be printed and framed).
  • We would LOVE an edge effects panel. Give us a great set of built-in edge templates (designed by a great professional designer), and then let us import and share edges we’ve created in Photoshop, and imported into Lightroom.
  • We would love to see the ability to have different photos in Picture Package cells (now, you only get one photo repeated multiple times. Even in Photoshop’s old Picture Package script, you can swap out any one of the cells for a different image).
  • If we could have the ability to zoom in on our image while we’re in the Print Module, that would be sweet (otherwise, we have to change modules just to see if the image we’re about to print is actually sharp, or the right version, or if we see something we think we missed, like sensor dust).

Web Module

  • We need to ability to have multiple galleries on the same page. We need to have one main gallery page with links to separate gallery pages with your wedding photos, and your travel photos, and your personal projects, etc. We need what every single Web service out there already offers. Without this, you can pretty much skip the rest of my suggestions, cause nobody’s going to use the Web module anyway.
  • We need to be able to have a template that allows for customer proofing feedback. That way, then just click a checkbox by the images they want, and it sends us an email with their picks.
  • We need to be able to add a caption, or change the name of any individual photos right there on screen, without going back to the Library module and Metadata panel.
  • We need to be able to embed DSLR video into our Web pages. It’s 2010. I’m just sayin’.

Well, that’s pretty much it. Now, I know I missed a few things, and I’m hoping you guys will share your comments here so Adobe can hear directly from you, too.

“You’re THIS close!” You’re this close!!!! You’ve got a program that people love, and despite the fact that Aperture 3 has you beat in some areas (as noted above), you’ve got them beat in some really big areas (not to mention, there’s actually a Windows version of Lightroom), but there’s no reason why you have to stop short when you’re “This close” to having a kick-ass program.

We’re not asking you to create some new groundbreaking technology that simply doesn’t exist. We’re not asking you to come up with mathematical algorithms to do the impossible. We’re asking you to make Lightroom do the things you know it should. We’re asking you to polish, and smooth, and make our user experience easier and more fun, and give those missing things that force us to sometimes use other programs to do everyday work. Programs made by your competitors.

You’ve got the Raw processing down. You’ve got the metadata stuff down. Keywording down. Now add all those other little things that don’t matter that much to you, but mean the world to us, and take Lightroom to a new level. Take the slideshow module seriously. Know that we need decent control over Type. Know that we need a really usable Web module with multiple galleries. Add those things to printing that would make it best printing experience anywhere. You’re this close. This close!

You have in your hands the ability to make a program so brilliant that nobody would use anything else. You proved you can do it with Photoshop (I’m not even sure what’s in second place). Now do it with Lightroom 4, and we’ll pay you back by buying more copies than you can package. We’ll take your sales forecasts and throw them out the window, because there won’t be a photographer out there that can make a case why they shouldn’t be using it. You’re this close to brilliant. Take just one more step.

Thanks for listening. :)


For those of you who have ever been to one of my live seminars, you know how seriously I take the ‘end of seminar’ evaluation forms, where you share your comments and thoughts on the day. I read every single evaluation form myself and my goal is to use your feedback to make my next seminar better. I really listen to what you’re saying, and I made changes to my New York seminar based on what I read in your comments the week before.

I also hear lots of feedback during the day itself, about what people want me to cover, or are hoping I’ll cover later in the day, or problems they’re having, and I thought I’d combine both to share something people have been asking about; discuss a few Lightroom specific things that are causing confusion with users, and give you some insights into how I plan the seminar day to make the most of the time we have together.

A tale of two cities
I just wrapped up my New York seminar this week, and I did Ft. Lauderdale the week before, and it’s always fascinating to me how similar people’s problems are (I know what you’re thinking—everybody in Ft. Lauderdale is originally from New York), and yet how two seminars can generate such different groups of questions. There was lots of overlap, yet each city had its own separate areas of concern.

For example, the question I heard on breaks over and over again in Ft. Lauderdale was “How do I get my photos out of Lightroom?” I heard it a dozen times or so, all worded slightly different, but the same basic theme. (I learned what was throwing everybody is that there is no “Save” or “Save As” menu command in Lightroom. Instead, Adobe calls it “Export,” which for every other Adobe product means “Save as a PDF” for but some reason, Adobe chose to call it “Export” in Lightroom. While Export may be a technically correct way to describe what it does—it’s not what photographers who are used to using Photoshop call what they do to save a JPEG file. They call it “Saving.” They use Save and Save As. We all do. It makes sense to us. (Don’t get me started).

However, in New York, not a single person asked that. I’m hoping it’s because I completely changed the way I explain the process of exporting your images from Lightroom, and I did it earlier in the day, and taught it in a completely different way, and I thank the photographers of Ft. Lauderdale for that, because I could tell while I was explaining it, it was “clicking” with people in New York.

So what was everybody stuck on in New York? How to get their photos that are trapped in Apple’s iPhoto, over into Lightroom. I can’t tell you how many people asked about that during the day. So much so, that I asked our own Matt Kloskowski, over at to do a movie next week to show the step-by-step process, and I asked my New York class to stop there next week.

My Q&A on Q&As
One thing I saw a reasonable amount on the evaluation forms was people asking for an open Q&A. They either wanted to end each session with a 15-minute Q&A or to devote an entire class as an open Q&A where the crowd can ask questions. I know they think that’s what they want—until they actually sit in an hour long Q&A. Within the past couple of months, I wound up teaching a class where I was required to do an open Q&A, and it reminded me of precisely why we don’t do them. Here’s what happens in an open Photoshop or Lightroom Q&A:

(1) At least half, but usually more, of the questions asked aren’t questions at all. They’re statements.
They usually start with the question person giving their personal resume for the whole room to hear, including a statement about the important work they’re doing, with high-end demanding clients, on their high end computers (including how much Ram they have installed), and they go on about how large the files they work on are, and basically they try and separate themselves from the rest of the crowd, letting everybody know they’re doing “serious work.” Then, they usually detail how they do a particular task, and all they’re really looking for is for me to tell them they’re doing it exactly right. Usually they are. They also know they are. They don’t really have a question at all. They’re making a statement. About themselves.

This happens over and over during the open Q&A. I called a fellow trainer after my last live Q&A, and he asked me how it went. I told him that during the entire hour, I had only one single legitimate question–the rest were statements, and questions the person asking already knew the answer to. Most of the people who asked the questions were clearly very good at Photoshop, and they wanted me, and everyone else in the room to know that, too.

(2) People ask questions about problems that are very specific to themselves
Most of the others are real questions, but they are usually incredibly specific about a particular problem that they’re having with their copy of Lightroom (so, it’s a troubleshooting problem that only pertains to them), or a workflow problem often based on some particular piece of hardware they’re using with Lightroom.

For example, I spent a good chunk of one of the breaks trying to answer a question from a woman using an Imacon image scanner who was having issues with embedded profiles coming into Lightroom, and then another long time talking with someone struggling with a complex problem he was having because he uses a particular hardware RIP (Raster Image Processor), and the company hasn’t updated their driver, and how that problem is messing up his Lightroom workflow. Luckily for the crowd, I was the only one who had to hear about it, but if this had been an open Q&A, you all would have sat through both, and there’s 20 minutes of your life you’ll never get back. I don’t mind at all—that’s my job, but you’d have to sit through it hoping to hear at least one question that would pertain to you.

3. People don’t generally ask wide ranging questions
Nobody stands up at an open Q&A and says “Can you tell me how to set my White Balance in Lightroom?” That’s a question a lot of people would benefit from, but sadly that’s not the type of questions I ever get. Here’s more like what I get at every seminar:

“I have four 2-terabyte hard drives where I have my photos, and I have these daisy-chained together, and I have my main Lightroom catalog on the first of the daisy-changed drives, and it’s connected via Ethernet to my computer, but then 2nd drive is connected via Firewire 800, and I don’t use the last two all that often, so they’re connected via USB 2.0. I want to get a new drive to replace my 2nd drive, but I read somewhere that if you use a drive less than 4800 RPMs it affects catalog performance, but since I’m only using this on my 2nd drive, which only has photos, and not my working catalog, do you think that will affect my overall performance enough that I should go with a 7800 RPM speed drive, or do you think just daisy-chaning it with Ethernet will be enough?”

I am not making this up. I get a question like this, each and every seminar. Sometimes two. Sometimes more. Just depends on the city (and if it’s a full moon). Anyway, that’s what really happens during live Q&As.

Mic Me Up During my Private Q&As
Because I know people often come to seminars like this with a particular question in mind, I spend every single break during the entire day (15 minutes each), plus 40 minutes of our 60 minute lunch break, plus at the end of the day I invite anyone to stay after the seminar who hasn’t had a chance for me to answer their question one-on-one during the day. I stay and answer questions for at least one-hour after the seminar or until literally my ride leaves to take me to the airport (if I fly home that night).

I do this, because I know how important it is to get that question answered, and believe me, nothing would make me feel worse than you leaving without having that one nagging question answered. That being said; I read a number of comments asking that I leave my microphone on during the breaks so they could hear my one-on-one questions with people. I don’t do this for a number of reasons:

(1) I don’t think it’s fair to the person asking the question. A lot of people are genuinely nervous to come up and ask a question in the first place—they’re afraid of asking a silly question, or looking foolish, and I would never want to put them in that position. I think that knowing your question would be broadcast to the room would keep a lot of people from asking what could be a very important question for them.

(2) You need a break. That’s why we take breaks in the first place. I’ve been teaching live Photoshop seminars since 1993, and I’ve tried every length of class possible, and I can tell you without reservation that after an hour of Lightroom and/or Photoshop, your mind needs a metal break so you can keep learning at this level. You need to go to the restroom, walk around, get a drink of water—just take a mental break so you can re-engage fully in just a few minutes later. Plus, I need a mental break, too. I need to switch gears and talk one-on-one for a few minutes to refocus myself as well. Plus, I need to sneak out to the restroom every once in a while, too.

(3) You would, once again, hear lots of very specific questions and often problems that an individual is having with their monitor, their computer, their backup drive, or Lightroom itself that I’ve never heard of happening before. So we go down a checklist of possible problems, and we may or may not solve the issue, but usually it’s so specific that only that one single person would benefit even if we came up with the answer. Is it possible that someone else in the room has their exact same problem. Absolutely. Is it probable. Nope.

(4) You would certainly hear some legitimate and not terribly specific questions, but there’s a reasonable chance that you already know the answer, in which case, it’s just more time ticking away between the opportunity you get to learn something new.

Adjusting During the Day
When I see a pattern of questions start to emerge, I start the next session by telling the class about a particular question I was just asked, and then I share the answer, because I see that it may help a number of people. Often, I’ll share two or three great questions (without giving any names or embarrassing anyone) that I answered during the break, so if there was anything that wasn’t terribly specific, I share that with the entire crowd anyway. It’s why I keep a pen and pad of paper handy while I’m answering questions on break—so I can remember to share them when we kick off the next class.

The Numbers Game is Against You
When you take an hour to answer questions in a live seminar, how many questions really get answered in that time frame? Realistically, about 12 to 14 questions. A couple are quick and easy, but that’s rarely the case when someone is willing to stand up in a room full of people and state their question (or make their statement). In Ft. Lauderdale I had over 400 photographers. In New York, it was nearly 600. So, if I did an hour long Q&A, 14 people out of 600 might get their questions answered. That’s a little over 2%. So, if you’re thinking, “I want an open Q&A so I can ask my question!” the odds are really against you.

The best way to get your question answered at my seminar is simply to come up and ask me. I love meeting people. I love helping them and answering their questions, and I’m always very kind, especially if you start the question with, “I know this may be a simple question, but…” (by the way—simple questions are my favorite kind, because I usually have the answer).

Fielding Live Questions in my Live Online Classes
When CS5 shipped, we did TWO free live Photoshop CS5 workshops a day for an entire week (you can watch the archived workshops for free right here), and during each live workshop we answered your submitted questions too, as we went.

We had literally tens of thousands of people watch those live seminars as they were broadcast live, and you could pose questions to us live as we were teaching. There were five of us on the set fielding questions, plus Nancy Masse´moderating as we went to keep things moving. How many questions do you think we really got to address in an hour? Just a handful. Maybe 15 per hour—-more than usual because since we saw the questions up front, and we could cherry pick the ones that would interest the most people. But still, your chance of getting your particular question answered during a live web seminar is probably 1/1000 at best. Maybe worse.

That doesn’t stop us
We just launched a new series of free monthly live Q&A sessions with myself, Matt, Dave, Corey and RC just for NAPP members, where we answer your questions one-on-one, online, live as you submit them. We do this now every month— and we post the entire thing online for free after the fact on the members’ Website. That’s the good news.

Here’s the bad news: Do you know how many months you’ll have to watch to get even one of your questions answered during a live online seminar with thousands of people watching? I hope they’ll still be making Photoshop by then. ;-)

That doesn’t stop us, because some people will get their questions asked, and we’ll be trying hard to answer just the questions that we hope will pertain to a large group of people, but the numbers don’t lie. Think about it.

Are you willing to trade?
So, I’ve put together a solid, jam-packed hour of Lightroom stuff I’m pretty sure you’ll want to learn. Stuff that in fact, I think you’d expect to learn at a full-day Lightroom seminar, but to give you a full hour of Q&A (or 15 minutes at the end of every class), you’ll have to give up that hour I have planned, and take a roll of the dice on an open Q&A, and just hope that one or two of the questions that get asked (between the statements that aren’t questions at all, and those incredibly specific questions, and your obligatory “stump the trainer” questions) will actually pertain to you and your workflow. Are you willing to trade the class I have planned out for you, with step-by-step notes in the workbook, for a live roll of the dice? My guess is—most of you wouldn’t.

The other Q&A feedback
I do have to balance the feedback that I get from people who say, literally, “Thank you so much for not doing an open Q&A,” and they go on to tell me about other seminars where they had an open Q&A and how far off track they got, and how useless it was to them. I hear this again and again. I also get personal emails and thank yous from those I do get to spend one-on-one time with at my seminars. Sometimes these people even teach me things. It happens at every seminar. Now I can share that in my next city.

Take me up on my offer
I’m going to ask you to do something, but I’m going to offer something in return. First, I know this post is going to ruffle the feathers of some of the people who have said they wanted more Q&As on the eval forms, and if that’s you, I would ask you to close your eyes, and consider the things I’ve told you here. Consider how frustrated you would feel as you sat through the multiple-hard drive nightmare question, the Imacon scanner issue, and the hardware printer driver questions, only to be followed by hearing another attendee’s verbal resume (and attempt to elevate themselves above the rest of the photographers in the room), only to learn that the person that actually did get their question addressed was the guy that was the loudest, and was willing to jump up on his chair and wave his arms to get my attention, just so he could share with the room about the important work he’s doing, and then detail his own complex workflow. Picture how you’d really feel after sitting through all that.

Now, here’s my offer. There is a better way to get your question answered than an open Q&A. Next time, don’t get up and just stretch your legs at break time. Come up and ask me a question one-on-one. You’ll probably have to wait in line a few minutes, and you might not even get up to the front that break, and you’ll have to try again next break, but know this—I won’t leave that day until your question gets answered. Each year, I stay long after and answer literally hundreds of people’s questions that didn’t get answered during the day. Why not yours next time?

If I don’t have the answer, I’ll send you to someone who does have it. I answer many questions in the days right after a seminar—-after I do some research, or ask my colleagues. I’ll email you back directly, or have them email you themselves, but I’ll do my best to make sure you don’t leave my seminar without getting your question answered.

A word of thanks
I know filling out those evaluations forms is a pain in the butt, but I do want you to know that your comments aren’t wasted. Every one counts. I try to make each seminar I teach better than the one before, and it’s your feedback that tells me what to focus on, what to do more of, and what to spend less time on. If I see a comment appear again and again, then I know it’s something I need to address. However, there is one comment I read from every single seminar, as long as I’ve been doing seminars, but I still don’t see us adding to the seminar anytime soon. “Give us free beer!” Hey, you can always dream. ;-)

P.S. One more comment from the seminars. Matt and I both ran into the same little hiccup using the Tethered shooting directly into Lightroom (which is awesome, by the way). If you connect your camera, turn on Tethered Capture, and it doesn’t see your camera, just close the Tethered Heads Up Display, and reopen it. It’ll see your camera now.


If you’re taking part in my World Wide Photo Walk this Saturday, after the walk you’ll be getting a private email invite from me to attend a special free, live online workshop I’ll be doing for walkers on post processing the images from your walk using Adobe’s new Lightroom 3.

I thought this would be a fun way for us to reconnect after the walk, and you’ll see exactly how I edit the images I take during my walk in Tarpon Springs, Florida, and the workflow I use to make the process quick and easy. If you don’t have Lightroom 3 yet, you can download a free trial version from Adobe at this link right here.

I’ll be taking your questions live during workshop, and I may grab a few of “The Photoshop Guys” here at NAPP HQ to help out as well, so it should be a lot of fun.

I’ll give some of the details on my blog (date, time, etc.), probably next week here on the blog, but the actual workshop link, password to attend the online workshop, and stuff like that will be sent to you in an email (NOTE: This workshop will only be open to people registered for the Photo Walk).

Also, if you can’t make the live workshop broadcast, don’t worry—-I’ll re-post the entire workshop online so you can watch the class on your schedule—all for free, as my way of saying thanks for being part of my 3rd annual worldwide Photo Walk.


I hope you’ll come and spend the day with me in New York on Monday learning all the cool new stuff in Lightroom 3. I just kicked the tour off in Ft. Lauderdale on Monday (had over 400 photographers there for the day, and we had a blast).

I can’t tell you how many people came up to me during the day, who didn’t have Lightroom at all yet, but were just blown away by what it could do. It’s really the kind of day that can change everything for your workflow, so I hope you can make it if you’re up that way.

It’s only $99 for the full day of training (including my step-by-step workbook), or just $79 if you’re a NAPP member. Here’s the link with all the details. Hope I’ll get to see you in person at the Javits Center on Monday. It’s gonna rock!

P.S. Don’t forget Matt is Boston on Friday. Use the same link above and see Matty K live!

Hey gang, Brad here with a few updates on books, events, and all sorts of stuff!

  • First off, if you haven’t already ordered Scott’s new Lightroom 3 Book for Photographers, you can do so right here. If you purchase through that link, you’ll also get a free Killer Presets CD from Matt Kloskowski! We haven’t gotten our copies just yet, but we’re expecting them ANY DAY, so order now!
  • Speaking of Lightroom, make sure you check out the dates for the Lightroom Live Tour. Scott’s coming to Fort Lauderdale and New York, and Matt’s coming to Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco all this month!
  • If you are a NAPP member, you will definitely want to check out the LIVE Members Only Webinar tomorrow, July 9th from 3:00-4:00 pm Eastern.  Matt, Dave, Corey, and RC will all be hanging out and answering your questions live, right on the spot. Nothing pre-planned, no mapped out lessons. Just you and them, getting through as many questions as they can in an hour!  All the info (and live feed when it happens), right here.
  • If you haven’t already signed up for Photoshop World Las Vegas, you can get registered right here.  Also, we have the best room rate we’ve ever had at Mandalay Bay at only $129 per night!
  • Have you checked out lately? We’re adding new classes every week, including Moose Peterson’s “Nature Photography – Shorebirds,” RC Concepcion’s “Lightroom 3 for the Web,” Dan Margulis’ “There Are No Bad Originals,” and Matt Kloskowski’s “Lightroom 3 In Depth, Part 3 – Printing and Showing Off Your Photos.” Also, keep an eye out for upcoming classes from adventure photographer Tom Bol!
  • And if you haven’t signed up for the 3rd Annual Worldwide Photo Walk yet, it’s not too late! Go here and type in your location to find a walk near you!

That’s it for today, and make sure you check out today’s guest blog from celebrity and fashion photographer John Wright!