Category Archives Photography

…and In Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto..and last year in London….and two weeks ago in Orlando…is that: photographers and Photoshop users everywhere are struggling with the exact same things. The same issues. The same hurdles. The same things that stump photographers in San Francisco, are stumping photographers in Germany.

(Above: Brad took this shot of my seminar in Amsterdam, just hours before his 27th birthday. Happy Birthday Braddo!)

So what is it?
It’s not just one thing—it’s lots of things. Here’s five common themes:

(1) Power They Didn’t Know They Had
A lot of people don’t realize that the things they want to do are actually in Photoshop or already in Lightroom, but since they’re kind of “hidden beneath the surface” (maybe it takes a hidden three-key shortcut, or its buried under a menu they never go under), they think they need to buy some other piece of software to get them where they want to go. I love to be able to show them that shortcut or hidden place. You can see them light up when they realize it’s already there. It’s one of the best parts of my job.

(2) Light Meters Terrify Them
Frank Doorhof (my guest speaker) did a fantastic demo about using light meters during my seminar in Amsterdam, and that’s probably why I’ve never had more comments about them. Apparently a lot of people already have them, but very few are actually using them, and they told me they’re very confused about using meters in general.

(3) Off Camera, Hot-shoe Flash.
A lot of people at my seminars already have an off-camera hot-shoe flash or two, but they are really struggling with getting the results they want. A lot are complaining about triggering problems (with line of sight triggering and TTL), and that their images look too “flashy” and obvious that flash is being used.

(4) Over Thinking Everything
When it comes to lighting, I talked with so many people who are over-thinking everything and they’re just plain overwhelmed. I blame the Internet. They read one person saying one thing, and then at the next site, somebody says something entirely different, and they have no idea which one is right (usually, they both are—because in all of this—there’s not just one way to get to the end result), so basically they’re paralyzed. I think these folks are making a lot of the process of lighting and correcting photos more complicated in their minds than it really is. They’re all tied up in Watt seconds, and the Inverse Square Law, and the physics of lighting, and it has their head already spinning before they even walk thru the door.

(5) They’re Not Sure What To Use
Because so many pros are using so many different tools, they just want some guidance. They don’t want to buy the wrong thing (the wrong softbox, the wrong lights), and they don’t know if they want to continue down the path of hot-shoe flash, or studio strobes, or continuous lights, or a mixture of both or whatever. They want to be smart with their time and their money, and I don’t blame them.

(6) They have business concerns
They’re struggling with either (a) making a living as a photographer, or (b) they’re planing on quitting their current job to become a full-time photographer (I hear that a lot), or (c) they just came out of school trained as a photographer, but they don’t have a job and they’re all looking for some tips to help them make it.

Here’s what nobody ever asks about:

(1) Composition

(2) Creativity

(3) Art

It’s all about sync speeds and settings. I also hear a lot about “Rules” as in “I read your never supposed to do [insert anything about lighting here].”

Oh yeah, more one thing. Most everybody, in every city is already using Lightroom (at least at my seminars). The few that are still on the Bridge/Camera Raw don’t know why they should be using Lightroom at all. They think it’s just another version of the Bridge and Camera Raw, and they already have those, so why switch? Sigh.

What I’m doing about it
I’ll pick up with that right here tomorrow. :)

Hi gang: We had an absolutely fantastic seminar in Cologne, Germany on Wednesday. We had nearly 300 photographers there with me for the day, and I met some of the nicest, most gracious folks anywhere. What a warm welcome for my first tour in Europe—thanks to everyone who came out!!!

Here’s a few shots from the day, including one of my special guest retoucher, the amazing Calvin Hollywood (if you haven’t caught his classes on Kelby Training Online yet, this guy is insane!!!). Of course, the crowd loved Calvin, and I loved having him there (that’s Calvin above hanging out in the back before his retouching session—photos by Brad Moore).

(That’s Calvin above during his session where he shared his latest high contrast “freaky stuff.” Very cool techniques–I took notes the whole time he was on stage).

By the time you read this, I’m already teaching my seminar in Amsterdam, and my special guest instructor is none other than Frank Doorhof, and I cannot wait to see what Frank has up his sleeve!!!

My wife and son flew over here to spend a few days with me here in Amsterdam, so I am just totally psyched for the weekend, and I might even have a shot or two to share next week. :)

Have a great weekend everybody, and we’ll talk again soon.

At my seminar in Orlando on Friday, we were talking about adding high contrast effects to portraits, and how sometimes the effect is too harsh to apply to your subject’s skin (it almost makes their skin look bruised) so when I apply the effect to men, I do some masking so reduce the effect where it doesn’t work, and I pretty much avoid it on women’s skin altogether.

So, someone asked if I ever use it on a portrait of woman, and I said—absolutely—I used it on the cover shot for my “Portrait Retouching” book (the shot is shown above), but not on her skin—–I used it to make her necklace and ring really stand out. I also used a little on her eyes and hair (I lowered the opacity of the brush).

When it comes to accessories, I really want them to stand out, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past year, it’s how important accessories are to making “the look” for a fashion shoot.

On The Job Training
I know women already know this, but the important of accessories really hit me last year when I was doing a fashion shoot in New York City. I hired a wonderful fashion stylist (Sophia Batson, shown below left) and right after she put all the outfits we’d be using on hangers, she laid out an entire work table with nothing but fashion accessories (it looked like a mini-store right on the set).

Once the model was in her outfit (that’s our model Gemmy behind us on the set), Sophia picks the prefect accessory for the look we were going for. For the look at the top of the page (A beauty-style headshot), Sophia choose that one because she knew it was “the one!” and I realized, even before I took the first shot, that it took the image to the next level. In fact, I liked it so much, I wound up using for the cover of the book (seen below).

Where do you find stuff like that?

Since this book came out, I’ve had a number of people ask me where I got that necklace she’s wearing. Of course, since it was Sophia’s, I had no idea, but one of the designers that created the necklace must use Photoshop because they dropped me a line and loved how the cover looked with it (how cool is that!). The designer is Gabriele Frantzen, and you can find her work at and there are links where to buy her designed online.

The particular necklace I used here is the “Sense & Sensibility” necklace in Smoke.  (Note: Gabriele’s creations must be crazy popular with fashion designers, because when you go to her site, she shows the covers of all these major fashion magazines featuring her work).

Post Processing
The post processing was actually very simple because I used a plug-in to do most of the work. I simply opened the image and then in Photoshop I applied the “Tonal Contrast” preset of Nik Software’s “Color Efex Pro 3.0” to the entire image. When you do this, it creates a separate layer with the effect applied to it.

Then, so I could apply the high-contrast effect just where I wanted it, I Option-clicked the Layer Mask button (PC: Alt-click) at the bottom of the Layers panel to put a black mask over the entire high-contrast layer (so now it’s hidden from view).

Then, I set my foreground color to white, got a small soft-edged brush, and starting painting over the necklace at 100% Opacity, and man did it make it just pop! I went to her eyes and hair and painted over those at well, but only at about 25% Brush Opacity, just to give those a little “zing” as well.

Above: here you can see the mask after I painted over it revealing the necklace (at 100% strength in white) and her eyes and hair (at 25% strength).

One for Orlando
I’m glad I got the chance to do this for the folks who attended my Orlando seminar (they were an awesome crowd—-one of my most fun, engaged, and gracious groups of the entire year), and for you guys here on the blog.

Off to Germany and Holland
Brad and I are off to Cologne and Amsterdam, and we’re looking forward to meeting all the great folks over there, and sharing my Light it, Shoot it, Retouch It Tour with our first European audience. I’ll be in Cologne when we broadcast “The Grid” this week, so make sure you tune in tomorrow at 4:00 pm to catch Matt Kloskowski and friends live! Have a great Tuesday everybody—–Germany….here I come!!! :-)

While I was on vacation in Maine a few weeks back, I spent a day shooting with my buddies Scott Eccleston of, and Mark Hensley and while we were out shooting near Portland, Maine I recorded this short tutorial for their site on shooting long exposure black & white.

Besides this tip, has lots of great tips on there all the time, so make sure you head over and check out their site. Definitely worth it! Thanks to Scott and Mark for putting up with me, and for letting me share this with you guys. :)

Scott Kelby Workshop – BTS from Dave Cross on Vimeo.

Last week, I had the opportunity to do something I rarely get to do; an intimate hands-on class where my students and I get to shoot and retouch alongside each other all day long. Dave Cross (Canadian Photoshop Ninja) invited me to teach this one-day workshop at his new studios just outside Tampa, Florida, and I have to say, it was a really wonderful experience.

I was following Joel Grimes, who had just had his workshop at Dave’s place the week before (if I hadn’t been in Canada, I would have paid to be in Joel’s class myself), and I have to say—Dave’s studios is really set up perfectly for this type of intimate workshop; with a good-sized fully-equiped studio, a really comfortable set-up for both the students and instructors, and he even brought in a yummy lunch for everybody.

Dave put together the “behind-the-scenes” video you see above, and I thought I’d share it with you guys to give you a glimpse into the day (I had such a great group of students that day. Totally engaged, totally into, and they made some totally awesome images!).

Dave’s got some incredible workshops coming up (including some world class wedding photography instructors), so if you want to learn up close and personal, visit Dave’s site  (Here’s the link).

Thanks Dave for having, and being such a gracious host to me and my students. Your place rocks!

I’m very excited, and totally honored, to announce that at my “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it” tour dates in:

> Cologne, Germany (10, August), and….

> Amsterdam, Netherlands (12, August)…

I have a very special guest on stage with me in each city.

I have a very special guest retoucher—none other than the amazing Calvin Hollywood. Those of you who have seen him on Kelby Training Online know he’s one of the most talented retouchers and special effects artists on the planet, and he’ll be doing a guest retouch in one of my sessions. How cool is that!!!

Joining me in Amsterdam is the hottest rising star of the studio lighting world, and one of the best lighting educators anywhere—Frank Doorhof (ask anyone who has seen his one of his classes—this guy is insane!!!! I’ve learned a lot of Frank, and was a fan years before I ever met him in person). Frank will be doing one of my live shoots that day, and it is SO going to rock.

I cannot tell you how excited, and honored I am, to be sharing the stage with these two superstars, and I hope you’ll get to see them live with me, too!

Here’s the link with all the details, and how to sign up. My thanks to Calvin and Frank for joining me for these two very special, very important dates—my first seminars in Europe ever! Can’t wait!!!!!!