New Online Training Course: Photoshop World Live! (Free to NAPP members)

by Scott Kelby  |  2 Comments

Today we released a brand new online training course on that was filmed live on location at Photoshop World Orlando.

The idea was to give everybody a feel for what it’s really like being at the Photoshop World Conference & Expo, and it includes a number of short segments from some of the actual training classes, some behind-the-scenes looks at the show (Including some of the special events), along with a mini-Tech Expo tour highlighting some of the new stuff from the trade show floor.

Also, we’re making this special class available to NAPP members for free; just use the link on the NAPP members home page, and then simply sign-on with your NAPP user name and password and you’ll be able to take this 2 1/2+ hour online class for free.


It’s “Guest Blog Wednesday” featuring: Moose Peterson

by Scott Kelby  |  1 Comments


A Lifetime in the Making

The old, green, “retired” warden’s Bronco stops with a lurch. The door swings open out of my hand, the truck is pointing down the steep grade. “The road is washed out beyond here, gotta walk the rest of the way.” I got up at 02:20, drove thirty minutes to meet up with the biologists and then drove another forty minutes to get to this point. The sun is a rumor on the horizon when I grab my camera gear and head off while attempting to keep up with the 24yr old springbuck biologists I’m working with this day. Down we go at an alarming rate and speed in the darkness, alarming because we’d have to hike back up the same grade to get back to the truck.

A mile down the grade, the antenna goes up and the signal is found. Cross-country we go, hurdling sage brush in a marathon race with the sun. First, down a gully and then up a hill, my guides moving like pronghorn and quickly pulling away from me (oh to have young legs). Our route is precarious at best as we zigzag, following the signal. We reach a rise to get another sounding; I look over my shoulder to see the road way below us. Not even catching my breath, we’re off again still cross-country, but now following the ridgeline we had climbed to. The biologists come to a quick halt; the signal has exploded, which means the quarry is less than 10 meters away. This routine is familiar, just did it the morning before, so I froze. Spotting the object of our quest, the biologists crouch down, walk very slowly towards the tan colored lump at the base of a sage. Less than a meter away it explodes in the air and down the slope and the biologists freeze. When they stand up and I see their faces, they look like they’d just swallowed a lemon.

“There’s none here, must have been predated upon between 17:00 last night when we last checked and this morning.” “She’s broodless.” With that, we head cross-country again, at least at a little less feverish pace and work our way back to the truck. The three mile jaunt netted all of us nothing, the biologists weren’t able to collect any data and I not a photograph. Mother Nature still rules the roost and for the moment, the Greater Sage Grouse has five less chicks to booster its falling numbers.

At this point you might be saying to yourself, “Man, you got up mighty early and walked a long way to come back empty handed.” As one of my first biological mentors always use to say, “There’s data in no data!” For the biologists, the question is now to determine what happened with the five, four day old chicks. For me, the “dry run” provides more insight into the situation and sets my mind to working on how I’d photograph the event next time. And if you’re a wise photographer, you make a plus from the negative.

I’ve been at this wildlife photography gig for thirty years and even with that, each and every day I learn something new about my craft (which joyfully means I don’t know everything). This is key if you don’t want to fall victim to the Darwin Theory of Photography, “evolve or perish.” To get to the point where I could get skunked on the hillside, thirty years had been put into the craft. Practice wasn’t needed to get skunked, but rather to learn that being skunked is part of the craft. The learned craft is what you fall back on when you do succeed and the chicks are there and for a moment Mother Nature let’s you peek inside her very mysterious world.

It’s really quite simple, this mastering of photography. There’s only one unspoken secret in this quest. It takes time! You’ve gotta put in your time and learn from your mistakes as much as your successes and always, always look for the silver lining. There are days you’re going to walk those three miles up and down hills only to get skunked. There are going to be those days when you fall out of bed and the image smacks you right in the face. In between is an incredible journey that if you only take a deep breath, smell the roses and every other bad cliché about enjoying life, time will make your photography as meaningful and as powerful as you want it to be.

Two years ago, every time I came up to a landscape photo opp, my mind would race and inside the word HELP would be screamed. “Where’s the subject, how do I compose it, folks are watching me for inspiration and the best I can do right now is a joke.” HELP! Then, just as it was for me and flash twenty years ago, the switch was turned on so for the last couple of years, making the decent to spectacular landscape photo requires no real thought on my part other than how I want to finish it in post. All the pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place. They just happen, life’s experiences have finally taken over.

This, my friends is what’s waiting for you and your photography! I know this for a fact. Playing is the heartbeat of passion. If your passion is photography, any kind of photography, play until you’re exhausted because with time, and time is the most important ingredient (not f/stop or Photoshop plug-in), you WILL experience the same joys, same rewards, same quality images that get me up at 02:20 and walk three miles only to be skunked. The same love that you’ll get up again the next day at the same time to walk the same distance to see if this day, you’ll win. Great photography is a lifetime in the making!


Some Brand New Blogs to Take a Look At

by Scott Kelby  |  0 Comments


It’s “Blogcast Palloza” as our industry has spawned a few new blogs and podcasts within the last week or so, including some from well known names in the digital imaging arena, so I thought I’d list a few of them here for you:

  • First, commercial photographer (and Photoshop World instructor) Jim DiVitale has just launched his own blog, called “Where in the World is Jimmy D” and you can check it out right here.
  • Rich Harrington (one of our DV gurus who teach on the video track at Photoshop World), has launched a weekly Podcast on Apple’s Aperture, and you can find it right here (in HD no less).
  • Don’t know if you caught this one, but last week our special guest blogger of the week, John Paul Caponigro launched his own blog (here’s the link)
  • Sly Arena (from has launched a new blog called “” (here’s the link).
  • And lastly, I mentioned that Brad Moore (Joe McNally’s Assistant), has launched his own blog, and that link’s right here as well.

Quick Video Clip on My New Book, “The Mac OS X Leopard Book”

by Scott Kelby  |  0 Comments

My brand new book, The Mac OS X Leopard Book, is back in stock at and Barnes & (the initial shipment had sold out at Amazon), and so I thought I’d do a quick little video about the new book, and about two little bonus things I added to this style of book for the first time. Click on the video below to check it out.

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Tomorrow’s Guest Blogger is…..

by Scott Kelby  |  0 Comments

….one of very favorite photographers; one of my favorite instructors, and one of my favorite people; Moose Peterson. Moose is an incredible teacher whom I’ve learned so much from over the years, and it’s a distinct honor to have him as here my Wednesday Guest Blogger, so stop by tomorrow and check in with Moose. :)



The High-Wire Act of Getting Photo Permits

by Scott Kelby  |  7 Comments


I’ve had a number of posts, email, and even phone calls from friends, asking about when they would need a permit to shoot, and how to go about getting one.

This isn’t an easy question to answer, because every city and every location has its own set of rules (or lack thereof) and most times the biggest problem isn’t getting a permit; it’s finding out whether you need a permit or not in the first place.

Who needs a permit?

Again, there is no hard and fast rule about who needs a permit, but generally if you’re shooting in a city, from the sidewalk, with a handheld camera (even a professional DSLR), you don’t need a permit. However, the moment you decide to unfold a tripod, in most big cities, it instantly becomes “permit time,” because now this has just gone from a tourist with a nice camera, to a commercial photo shoot.

But here’s the catch:
Let’s say you’re not using a tripod at all; you’re just hand-holding a DSLR, and you’re on a public sidewalk talking photos as you walk around the city–that’s not a problem, right? Well, it depends on what you’re shooting. If you’re on the sidewalk, but shooting a commercial building you can almost bet a security guard from that company is going to come out and ask you to stop. I’ve even heard them demand that you erase the shots you’ve taken of “their building.”

Now, this opens that whole, “Does he have the right to stop me from shooting a building out in public view while I’m on a public sidewalk?” debate. Well, of course not (perhaps), but that won’t stop them from trying. In fact, try this sometime; stand outside a downtown building in Chicago, Detroit, LA or New York and start taking photos and take a look at your watch to see how long it takes for a security guard to come and tell you, “You can’t shoot there!” So lets say you pitch a fit, tell him he has no right to stop you, and demand that he call the cops (which probably won’t take much convincing by the way), and then the police arrive at the scene.

Will the policeman know what the local guidelines are for shooting private buildings? Are there even local guidelines for this at all? So, at the end of the day; it’s going to be up to this police officer who answers the call to decide whether you continue or not.

The Small City Blues

What got me thinking about this is a talk I had with a friend who has a studio in a medium sized midwest city. He wanted to do a portrait shoot outside his studio, just outside of downtown, so he searched the Web for any clues to whether this city required photo permits or not. He couldn’t find anything saying yes or no, but he told me, “Ya know, if I go and set up a light and tripod, how long will a bit before a cop shows up and tells me to “move along?” My guess? Not long.

If he were to call City Hall and ask the operator who answers the phone, “Do I need to apply for a permit to do a photo shoot?” would she even know where to send him? If he were in New York, Chicago, LA, or any city where commercial ads are often shot, they surely would. But what about in Valdosta, Georgia or East Liverpool, Ohio, or Naples, Florida? In smaller cities like that; you know who will ultimately decide whether you can shoot or not? The first policeman who sees you shooting. And what do you say when he inevitably asks, “Do you have permission to shoot here?”

The Big City Blues
Now, if you live in a somewhat larger city and want to avoid the whole security guard/police man intervention thing, the first thing to do is a Google search for your city + “Photo Permit.” For example, I wanted to do a shoot in downtown Tampa (with a tripod and a light on a stand) and I Googled “Tampa” + “Photo Shoot” + Permit and a few seconds later I had found a reference to the “Tampa Bay Film Commission” (I had no idea this even existed). Once on their site, I was able to dig around until I uncovered how to apply for a permit, who needs one, and once we applied, I was granted a permit with no problem. They were great.
Another thing I’ve found, is that at first glance it may seem like you need proof of $1,000,000 in liability insurance to be approved for a permit (and the permit needs to list the local municipality as the co-insured), but so far, after looking carefully, in each case that’s only applied to video shoots, and not still shoots (even though local photographers warned me that’s the case, so far I haven’t actually run into it). And now you’re seeing another side of the problem; there’s so little information, or misinformation, it’s hard to find anyone with a real grip on the rules, and if there is such a person; don’t worry–they won’t be available when the cops come up, you show them your permit, and the cop says, “How do I know this is legit?”

That’s another problem; I doubt the local Film office distributes a copy to every police officer in town, so they know what the permits look like.

Making Your Case for a Permit
If you do decide that a permit is the way to go (in other words, you’re going to use a tripod), one thing they will want to know is, “What will the photos be used for?” They may ask if they’re going to be used for commercial purposes, educational purposes, to be sold as postcards, etc.

For example, on my recent trip to New York, we contacted the observatory at the top of 30 Rockefeller Center to request a permit to shoot the New York Skyline at dusk from their observatory (which would require me setting up a tripod). They had a page on their site for photo permits, and who to contact, etc. and so we followed their instructions. Unfortunately, we were turned down because we were going to use the photos in one of my books, which they felt was a “Commercial Purpose” so our request was denied.

We also contacted the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and they had a request for photography permit section as well, and they were pretty clear and adamant about the fact that both the exterior and interior of the Guggenheim were copyrighted, and tightly controlled. Despite several calls to the department that handles photo requests, we were never able to reach anyone, and they never called us back, so we were out of luck.

Where to Start
If after a quick search for your city and “Film Commission” and then your city and “Photo Permit,” etc., my next stop would be to contact (by phone), the local Convention & Visitors Bureau. They are usually pretty clued in to rules and regs for their area, and they might be able to send you in the right direction.

Unfortunately, the worst possible scenario is that there is no formal permit, and the person at city hall tells you, “Oh, it’s OK—you don’t need a permit to shoot here,” because when the security guard, police officer arrives and you say, “Cindy at City Hall says I don’t need a permit,” what you might as well say, is, “OK, I’ll pack up my stuff.”

If you want to shoot at private location (like a business, or commercial building, etc.), I’d start with their Public Relations dept. (you can usually find their direct contact info on the company’s Web site). Again, be prepared to let them know why you need special access to their building, and also let them know how unobtrusive you’ll be during your shoot (unless you’re actually going to be obtrusive).

In most cases, the PR folks, and Film Commission people have been very friendly and eager to help. They just want to know who you are, and what you’re doing, and that you’re not going to disrupt their city (business) and you’re not going have people tripping over your gear and suing them.

The bottomline
You’re basically relying on the kindness of strangers, who really don’t have any real burning desire to help you with your photo shoot, other than they like you, so be really, really nice.

I wish I could offer more help, and secret insights, but because each city is different, and apparently there are no set rules, you just don’t know what you’re going to come across out there, so be prepared to be really, really polite when you’re out shooting, because at some point you’re probably going to have to convince someone to let you keep shooting.

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