My Top-10 Photography & Photoshop Book Holiday Gift Guide

by Scott Kelby  |  33 Comments

Although I included some of “The Photoshop Guys” latest books in my Holiday Gear Guide (which ran here on the blog last Friday), there are some other great books out there that I think would make fantastic Holiday gifts, so I wanted to do a separate gift guide just for those. Here are my top 10 holiday gift book picks (in no particular order):

(1) Sketching Light: An Illustrated Tour of the Possibiliites of Flash
By Joe McNally

Joe’s lighting is the stuff legends are made of (I call him “the magical unicorn of lighting), and Joe wrote 420 pages about exactly how he lights. If this isn’t 2012′s lighting book of the year I’ll eat my hat (well, it’s really more of a ball cap, but I can’t imagine it would taste good).

From New Riders Press. ISBN# 0321700902. List Price: $49.95 (Online it sells for around $32). You can find it at Barnes & Noble or, or your local bookstore.


(2) Going Pro: How to make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer
by Skip Cohen and Scott Bourne

I’ve been recommending this book to students at my seminars for a while now because I think it really gives some great insights, real life instruction, and it’s filled with great images too boot, which make this a no-brainer for anyone whose thinking of taking their passion and turning it into profits. Very well done.

From Amphoto Books. ISBN# 0817435794. List Price: $29.95 (Online it sells for around $19). You can find it at Barnes & Noble or, or your local bookstore.



(3) Photographer’s Survival Manual: A Legal Guide for Artists in the Digital Age
By Ed Greenberg and Jack Reznicki 

I don’t think there’s ever been a more practical, down-to-earth, cut the BS and just tell it like it is book about copyright and protecting photographers and their images than this. Jack and Ed cover this topic in a way that is not only informative, it’s fascinating and fun, and the advice they share is worth many, many times the cover price.

From Lark Books. ISBN# 1600594204. List Price: $24.95 (It sells online for around $15). You can find it at Barnes & Noble or, or your local bookstore.


(4) Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks for Designers
By Corey Barker 

This book didn’t’ make it in time for my regular Holiday Gear Guide, but I wish it had because Corey did an absolutely amazing job on this book. He is a freakin’ Photoshop Genius and the stuff he comes up with, and the ways he uses Photoshop are just flat out amazing, and incredibly informative. It’ll help you unlock features and power you never knew were in Photoshop. Incredibly cool book (Note: Kelby Training produced this book for Peachpit Press, so know that I am totally biased, but also know that I went to Corey to help me with my Down & Dirty Tricks book in 2009 because when it comes to stuff like this, he is the best!).

From New Riders Press. ISBN# 0321820495. List Price: $49.99 (It sells online for around $29). You can find it at Barnes & Noble or, or your local bookstore.


(5) Kevin Kubota’s Lighting Notebook: 101 Lighting Styles and Setups for Digital Photographers
By Kevin Kubota 

I’m really picky when it comes to books on Lighting, but I really like this one, and I think one of its strengths is the wealth of inspiration you’ll get from the book because the type of shots are so varied. His lighting set-ups are straight forward (and you get a diagram for each), but seeing them applied on location really starts making the gears in your head start turning, and that alone makes it worth it to me.

From Wiley Publishing. ISBN# 1118035100. List Price: $34.95 (it sells online for around $24). You can find it at Barnes & Noble or, or your local bookstore.


(6) Captured: Lessons from the Behind the Lens of a Legendary Wildlife Photographer
by Moose Peterson

Moose wrote a book that literally just captivates wildlife photographers, both with its amazing photography and insights and advice that you won’t find anywhere else. Really a brilliantly written and presented book from cover to cover, and it’s been widely acclaimed as one of the best books ever written on wildlife photography (Note: we produced this book for Peachpit Press, but as much as I’d love to make more credit, it’s Moose’s words and pictures that make it what it is).

From New Riders Press. ISBN# 0321720598. List Price: $54.95 (Online price around $40). You can find it at Barnes & Noble or, or your local bookstore.


(7) Enchantment: the Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions 
by Guy Kawasaki

OK, this isn’t technically a book about photography, but it’s a book that every photographer in business needs to read, because in the wildly competitive market photographers are in today, they need to do more than take pretty pictures, they need to enchant your customers and this book will set you on that path, as well as inspire and motivate you. You will love it, and you’ll share it with others.

From Portfolio. ISBN# 1591843790. List Price: $26.95 [Hardcover]. (Online price around $15). You can find it at Barnes & Noble or, or your local bookstore.


(8) Fashion Flair for Portrait & Wedding Photography
by Lindsay Adler

I’m not the only one that thinks that this is a kick-butt book; Amazon’s own Editors chose it as one of their “Best of 2011″ top 10 books, and rightfully so. The wedding market, and what customers expect, is changing rapidly and Lindsay brings a breath of fresh air with her fresh take and a woman’s sensibility to what today’s brides want.

From Course Technology PTR. ISBN# 1435458842. List Price: $34.99 (Online around $23). You can find it at Barnes & Noble or, or your local bookstore.


(9) Canon EOS Rebel T3i “From Snapshots to Great Shots”
By Jeff Revell 

I’ve been looking at books on how to use your camera for years, and if you read the online reviews for most of these books, you’ll see the same comments again and again that these books are just a longer version of the camera’s users guide. That’s what makes this book (and this series) stand apart. It’s not just “how to use your camera.” It’s “How to use your camera to make better photos, and at the end of the day, I think that’s really why we want to learn what all those menus and dials do. If you know someone getting a Nikon or Canon camera this Holiday Season, there’s most likely a version of this book to match their camera. Congrats to my buddy Jeff for redefining the genre of “menus and dial” books.

From Peachpit Press. ISBN#032177664X. List Price: $24.95 (Online Price around $15). You can find it at Barnes & Noble or, or your local bookstore.

(10)  Speedlighter’s Handbook: Learning to Craft Light with Canon Speedlights 
by Syl Arena

In a book market dominated by books on Nikon Speedlights, Syl has made himself a hero to Canon shooters everywhere by doing a hot shoe flash book just for them, and its been one of the big hits of the year, and with good reason. He covers everything from soup to nuts, and if you’ve got a Canon flash shooter on your gift list, this is the book they’ve been waiting for.

From Peachpit Press. ISBN# 032171105X. List Price: $49.95 (Online price around $34). You can find it at Barnes & Noble or, or your local bookstore.





My 6th Annual Awesome Holiday Gear Guide

by Scott Kelby  |  48 Comments

It’s here! It’s finally here!

If you’ve been a faithful reader of this blog for the past five years, you probably remember back when it was called my “Gonzo Holiday Gear Guide,”but last year I dropped the Gonzo because, honestly, I really have no idea what Gonzo actually means. However, I know what Awesome means, and that’s exactly what’s in this year’s edition (Yay—-wild cheers ensue!).

I think what makes it extra awesome is that I purposely avoided choosing any really expensive gear for the guide, and instead, I really tried to focus on choosing great value-for-the-money gear. Anyway, the Gonzo is out, the Awesome is totally in, and this year’s guide is packed with some really cool stuff that we absolutely, positively don’t need on any level, but we desperately want nevertheless because that is, after all, half the fun!

The Rules:

These are my self-imposed guidelines for which products make it into the guide. It’s just two rules actually. To be listed here, they have to be: (1) Products that I use myself, and that I absolutely love, and now can’t live without.(2) If a product makes the guide, it has to be one I would recommend to a close friend without hesitation.

With that being said, we’re ready to take the wraps off these year’s Gear Guide picks. Here we go:

ExpoImaging Rogue Universal Gels

I hate cutting gels. I hate messing with gels. That’s why I love these precut, super-easy-to-use, and clearly marked gels for hot shoe flash. Very cleverly and simply designed.

Price: $29.95

ExpoImaging Rogue Grid

If you use hot shoe flash, these little metal grids let you focus the light in a concentrated beam, and like their gels, they are cleverly designed and simple to use. The stacking grid design provides 16°, 25°, and 45° spot lighting control. I use the 25° grid.

Price: $49.95

Nik Software Color Efex Pro 4 Complete Edition

Version 3 of this Photoshop plug-in was my go-to plug-in for effects. I literally use it every single day, and I love it. My one complaint was you couldn’t stack effects—you had to relaunch it every time you wanted to add an effect. Version 4 lets you stack ’em high, but that’s only part of what they added to this major update. They made the best even better! This is many top pros’ secret weapon.

Price: $199.95

onOne Software Perfect Photo Suite 6

onOne has taken all of their amazing apps and tied them together into a suite of very powerful, flexible, and easy-to-use tools that you can access from Photoshop, Lightroom, or as standalone apps. Amazing stuff. The Suite includes Perfect Portrait 1, Perfect Layers 2, Perfect Effects 3, Perfect Mask 5, Perfect Resize 7, FocalPoint 2, and PhotoFrame 4. (Disclaimer: I’m totally biased, as I helped with the development of the Perfect Layers part of this suite.)

Price: $299.95

Topaz Detail 2

If you really want that high-contrast, total compression look for your images, this plug-in (which Calvin Hollywood turned me on to) is really fantastic—and really affordable. I also like Topaz Adjust 4, which kind of a does a similar thing, only different. Luckily, you can download free, fully working demo versions of both and find out which one suits you.

Price: $39.99

Lumodi 14? Soft White Beauty Dish for Hot Shoe Flash

The beauty dish might be the hottest lighting accessory right now. It gives you a really nice, punchy light that’s not as soft as a softbox, but not nearly as hard as a bare reflector. Plus, it’s fairly inexpensive (as light modifiers go). I use the Elinchrom Softlight 80° 17? White Reflector beauty dish on my studio strobes, and I recommended it back in my “4th Annual Gonzo Holiday Gear Guide.” This time I’m recommending a beauty dish made by a company called Lumodi. They make a lightweight 14? version for hot shoe flash.

Price: $65.00


I’ve owned a few different light meters, but this is my favorite. It’s simple to use, and if you have Elinchrom lights, it has built-in Skyport support that triggers your strobes to make getting a reading even easier (though you don’t at all need Elinchrom lights to use it). Plus, it’s the best-looking meter out there (and looks matter to us).

Price: $449.99

Tether Tools

If the photographer on your holiday list shoots tethered, she needs to have some Tether Tools gear. I use their laptop stand (Tether Table Aero), the two-drive holder (Aero XDC Duo) that attaches to the stand, and a handy strap (SecureStrap) that holds my laptop in place. I really love their stuff, and so will the photographer on your gift list.

Tether Table Aero: $175.95–199.95 (stand not included)

Aero XDC Duo: $54.95

SecureStrap: $17.95

Westcott 7′ Parabolic Umbrella

This may be the best value in the entire gift guide this year. The Westcott 7′ Parabolic Umbrella is so huge and creates such beautiful light that, either way, the photographer you buy it for will think you spent a lot more for it than you did. The megapixel race is over. Now, whoever dies with the biggest softbox/umbrella wins.

Price: $99.90


The Olloclip is quick-connect camera lens system for the iPhone. If you buy this for the iPhone-carrying photographer in your life, you will be his hero because this small, slide-on set of lenses is nothing short of brilliant, and it lets you create images with your iPhone you’d never imagine could be done: wide-angle, fisheye, and macro. And the price is right.

Price: $69.95

The Joe McNally Ezybox Hotshoe

This is my go-to softbox when shooting hot shoe off-camera flash. It’s like the regular Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe softbox except that the interior is white instead of silver, so it provides a softer look. First disclaimer: Joe’s a personal friend. Second disclaimer: That’s not why I included it.

Price: $256.00

Think Tank Photo AirStream Rolling Camera Bag

I so love this camera bag. I also have their Airport International Rolling Camera Bag, and it’s great, as well, but it’s not small enough to fit in smaller regional aircraft—but this puppy is. It holds an amazing about of gear for something so small. Love it!

Price: $299.75

The Latest Books from Matt and RC. And Me.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our own books, because they make really great gifts. Matt Kloskowski’s new book, Photoshop Compositing Secrets, is—I truly believe—the best book ever written on the topic. Period. People are losing their minds over this book. RC Concepcion’s book, The HDR Book, focuses on postprocessing in Photoshop, and it’s been a megahit. I have two new books out: Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. and my Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers Using Photoshop. My company produced all these books (just so you know), but I asked a random reviewer (my wife) what she thought, and she said, “My husband’s books are awesome. Buy both.” It doesn’t get any more unbiased than that.

Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It.: $44.99

Photoshop Compositing Secrets: $49.99

The HDR Book: $44.99

Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers Using Photoshop: $49.99 or Barnes & Noble or

Hoodman HoodLoupe 3.0 with the Cinema Strap

If the photographer on your list shoots digital video with his DSLR, he’ll love this strap-on loupe that makes shooting DSLR video so much easier. If this is for a loved one, you might go ahead and spring for the Cinema Kit Pro instead, but they both work really well.

HoodLoupe 3.0: $79.99

Cinema Strap: $19.99

Cinema Kit Pro: $189.99

Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers Using Photoshop: $49.99

Tiffen Variable Neutral Density Filter

If your photographer is into long exposure black-and-white images (and it’s a decent bet that she is), then slap one of these puppies on your gift list, and she’ll be shooting at the seaside at 2 p.m. It provides 2 to 8 stops of light control.

Price: $239.99

Westcott Magic Slipper

This adapter lets you use just about any softbox that Westcott makes (and there are plenty!) with your hot shoe flash. This opens up a whole new world of light modifiers for off-camera flash, and the photographer on your gift list will love you for it.

Price: $229.90

Paul C. Buff Vagabond Mini Lithium

At 240 bucks, this is one of the more expensive things on this year’s list, but it’s a much cheaper portable battery pack for studio lights than just about anything else out there, so it’s still a great value. It lets you plug regular studio lights into the standard 120VAC plugs right on the top. I’ve used it on location and it works surprisingly well (for the small size and small price).

Price: $239.95

Well, there ya have it folks—this year’s ideas to fill your holiday gear dreams. Shop early. Shop often. ;-)

Hapyy Holidays everyone!


Special “This Weekend Only” Deal on Rogue Flash Modifiers (Just For Readers of My Blog)

by Scott Kelby  |  11 Comments

OK gang—we’ve got another “This Weekend Only” Deal, and it’s even better than their last “This Weekend Only” deal they ran back in March, and it’s on ANY of their Rogue flash modifiers for Hot Shoe Flash.

The Rogue gear is top notch (I include their stuff on my tour) and it’s from Expo Imaging (the people behind cool gadgets for photographers like the popular ExpoDisc and the Rayflash, and Flashbenders).

Here’s the deal:

My readers receive 30% off the purchase of any Rogue Photographic Design products from ExpoImaging, including Rogue FlashBenders, Rogue Grid, Rogue Gels, Rogue Diffusion Panels, or the Rogue Starter, Portrait, Master and Background Lighting Kits. The discount code is “NAPPROGUE”, and it is case sensitive (enter it at checkout).  Valid from Friday, December 2nd through Sunday, December 4th.


Here’s the link with the details on their gear.

Thanks to the folks at Expo Imaging for making this offer to my readers.


Fstoppers “Behind The Scenes” Contest

by Brad Moore  |  4 Comments

Hey gang, Brad Moore here, and I just wanted to let you know about something really awesome…

The team over at Fstoppers have put together a contest in search for the best Behind The Scenes videos out there, and they’re giving away over $21,000 worth of gear to the winners, including cameras, lights, softboxes, camera bags, and more!

Plus, Scott Kelby is one of four judges picking the winners!

They’re looking for videos that are creative and extremely informative, so don’t go thinking you have to put something together that looks like a Hollywood movie or some big production.

Even if you’re not that experienced with shooting videos, use this as motivation to get out there and try it out! It’s becoming more and more important for businesses and promotion every day, so why not let this be your jumping off point? Just grab an iPhone or HDSLR and go shoot!

The deadline for the contest is December 31, 2011, so make sure you get your entry in before then. Good luck!


It’s Pimpy Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  6 Comments

Hey gang, Brad Moore here with the latest news and updates!

Corey’s Book Is Here!!
That’s right, Corey Barker’s Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks for Designers has finally arrived! Corey has been furiously signing away over the past couple of days so that all the pre-orders can be fulfilled. You can pick up your copy right here!

Next Week Is NAPP Retouching Week!
Next week is a special week, with a live webcast every evening at 6:00pm EST featuring The Photoshop Guys (plus special guests) showing you a variety of retouching for different scenarios. So tune in each evening for Wedding Retouching, Digital Makeup, The Next Level of Retouching, Audience Q&A, and get Tips from the Industry with Calvin Hollywood and Evangeline Cooper! You can see the full schedule right here!
We’ve had two killer additions to the library recently…

First up, check out A Day With Joe McNally. Join Scott Kelby as he visits Joe McNally at his house/studio to talk with Joe and his studio manager, Lynn, about what goes into preparing for a shoot. Then, go on location with Joe and his crew, and watch as Joe crafts amazing images as only Joe can!

Next, head out to Copper Mountain, Colorado with Tom Bol in Winter Sports Photography! Tom takes you through everything from his gear guide for shooting in extreme temperatures, to getting powder shots, to shooting action sequences and more!

More from Tom Bol
Speaking of Tom Bol, his book Adventure Sports Photography from Peachpit Press just started hitting shelves. You can pick up your copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or anywhere else kick-butt books are sold :)

He’ll also be doing a webinar with on Outdoor Adventure Shooting from 2:00pm – 3:00pm EST on December 13! It’s free to sign up, which you can do right here.

Kelby Books On Sale at Barnes & Noble
Peachpit just informed us that now through January 10, you can get 30% off Scott Kelby’s Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. book, and The Digital Photography Book! In addition to that, Matt Kloskowski’s Photoshop Compositing Secrets is on sale for 20% off through January 18! Just visit your favorite Barnes & Noble to take advantage of these deals :)

That’s it for today. If you’re coming to the sold-out Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. seminar in Washington, DC tomorrow, be sure to come up and say hi!


It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring the Help-Portrait Team!

by Brad Moore  |  19 Comments

Hey everyone, Jeremy Cowart here. A little over 2 years ago, I launched an idea here on Scott’s blog called Help-Portrait. I had no idea if it would fly or not. But it was worth a shot. 3 years later, photographers around the world have embraced the idea and have reached out to their communities and made a massive impact in helping and serving others.

And with the growth and success of this idea, I’ve had to grow the Help-Portrait team to continue making it all happen. People seem to think that it’s just me running this organization, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There is a truly remarkable, selfless, all-star team of people around me that are helping make Help-Portrait happen. They are working year-round on making Help-Portrait a success and I’m constantly inspired by them. So I wanted to take this opportunity for you to get to know them a little bit and see why they’re so awesome.

So without further ado and in no particular order, let me introduce you to my Help-Portrait team!

Name and your job title/role for Help-Portrait:
Kyle Chowning – Executive Director + Board member – Oversee the overall planning, development and execution of the Help-Portrait operations

What’s your favorite moment from your Help-Portrait experiences so far?
My favorite moment was the first year, when we worked tirelessly to pull off the very first Help-Portrait. I remember stepping back and watching hundreds of people come through our event getting their picture taken—often for the first time in a very long time, or ever, and seeing the smiles on their faces. They were so appreciative. Truth is, they were doing more for me that I was doing for them. Easily one of the most memorable days in my life to-date.

Why do you believe so much in Help-Portrait?
Not being a photographer myself, I believe in Help-Portrait not because of what it does for the photography industry, but for the subjects: women who never felt beautiful, knew they were beautiful; homeless people who were typically avoided, engaged and became rock stars, even if just for a moment; lack of confidence turned into confidence; shame turned into pride; rejection turned into acceptance; sadness turned into excitement; hopelessness turned into the promise of something new; unemployed and homeless now had a professional portrait to share with prospect employers; the list could go on and on. All of this happened with a simple click and a print. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that story?

Why should others get involved with Help-Portrait?
If you’re a photographer…

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