Back from 9 Days in Barcelona, Spain….

…..and I have nothing to show for it. Well, there was this one photo that somehow wound up on my camera:

Crazy Joe Davolasm

Yup, that’s what happens when you (a) let Joe McNally come on vacation with you, and (b) one night you leave your camera on the dining room table. I should have known better.

There were 15 of us (my entire family, my brother in law and his family, my brother Jeff, my friends Jim Workman, Jean Kenda, and their son Kevin, and Joe McNally and his wife Annie). We were all there simply on vacation, and during the trip we’d be celebrating my 50th birthday.

Despite the fact that I have absolutely nothing to show photographically from my entire trip, I had a ball from beginning to end. First, I didn’t work a lick the entire time. My photo assistant Brad Moore covered the blog for the days I missed, along with a great guest blog from John Wright and yesterday’s hilarious one from Aaron Johnson (I’ve been a long-time What The Duck fan, and I have a custom made “What the Duck” I received as a gift from my buddy Larry Becker—that’s it below, and it’s been hanging on my office wall ever since).


Did you really not get any shots?
I really didn’t get any shots. The guys in the office thought I was kidding, until I showed my buddy Dave Moser the few that I didn’t delete immediately upon import, and he said (his exact words) “Oh…boss. I dunno know. You’ve got three. Maybe four shots shots there. Tops.” Believe it or not, he was being very kind—I wouldn’t even post any of them. They might make a good tutorial one day on how to fix totally uninspired, snapshot-looking travel photos.

OK, I did get one shot I like (below). That’s my daughter Kira taking a shot of my brother Jeff, at sunset in the charming town of Sitges (about 30 minutes outside Barcelona), which was our vacation home for the trip.


So what happened?
I think it was that I was way more into family, friends, and relaxation than I was into photography on this trip, and I never really got in the zone on any level. By the last day, I realized that didn’t have a single decent shot, so in desperation my brother and I drove to a European Balloon Festival he read about in Delta’s Sky magazine on the trip over. It was 30 miles away in the other direction, but sadly, I didn’t get anything  there either, as seen below (these were taken at 8:20 pm, and unfortunately the balloons headed off directly into the sun, which was already pretty low, and had just tucked behind a hazy cloud, so once again, lameness abounds).


Funny thing is; I’m totally OK with it. I had just finished two books—back to back—and what I really needed was some time to recharge, and I totally did that. Besides, football season is right around the corner. :)

Didn’t you go shooting with Joe?
Yup. One day Joe and Annie took me on a birthday photo trip to a little medieval town about 30 miles outside of Barcelona. There was this beautiful river lined with old buildings that looked like it would be cool to shoot. As luck would have it; the river was dry. You couldn’t paddle a canoe down it. It kinda killed the shot, so we spent most of the time just laughing and just walking around and checking things out.

On the way there, Annie had spotted a huge field of daises just off the highway, so we left early to try and catch a few shots (hoping to save the day), but when we pulled up alongside them, we could see from the highway, that they were kind of wilted, and turned away from the sun. But undeterred we took the next exit and went searching for more sunflowers. About 15 minutes down the road we found a field that looked better—-on private property—which apparently has never stopped Joe or Annie, so we “snuck” our Audi rental car into the field, kind of behind the tall daisies, but still somewhat in sight of the three farm houses surrounding it.

I really didn’t want to wind up in a Spanish jail, so I told Joe and Annie, let’s get in, shoot a few shots, kind of lay low, and we get out. So I’m out there shooting, Annie’s shooting, and I look over at Joe, who is wearing a bright red shirt mind you, and (I am not making this up) he is literally standing on top of the car shooting. We looked over and Annie and I burst into laughter. I have never had more fun getting lame shots of daisies (though Annie absolutely got a few great ones).

So the trip was a bust?
Not all at. Although I didn’t get a shot, I had one of the best vacations ever, despite the fact that I left my camera unattended long enough that Joe got ahold of it. I wish he had gone out and taken some shots with it—-at least I’d have something to show here.

So, I’m back. I’m tan, rested, and ready (OK, I’m not tan, but the rest is true), and I’m totally ready to get back to work and do whatever it is that I do (though a lot of people around here still don’t quite know what that is). ;-)  Thanks to Brad for covering for me, and thanks to you guys for being here again. It’s great to go on vacation, but it’s always great to be back home, too.

  1. I know the feeling of needing a break … I didn’t finish two books (just one, lol) but feel burned out. I’m actually looking for a vacation where I won’t feel the need to take my camera with me, or do any writing! Just want to step away from work for a few days.

    Even though we love photography we still need to recharge our batteries every now and then. :)

  2. Happy 50th Birthday Scott! You’re now half a century old. HAHA :D
    Great to have you back.
    And its nice to hear even the pros have their ‘off days’ once in awhile :D

  3. Hi Scott, glad to hear you had a good break – sounds like it was a nice chillin’ time.
    A belated happy 50th to you too.

    BTW Does Joe ever take a break from touring the globe? Spain last week, London next week – he must clock up AirMiles like there’s no tomorrow! Looking forward to my first experience of a Kelby training seminar next week here in London. Hoping of course to perhaps see you on these shores during the Fall for the next Kelby training UK installment ;-).

  4. Scott….you have children, so you should know never to leave expensive electronics on the dining room table, unattended. You just never know what might happen when they get a hold of that stuff. They might break it, or, well, obviously other really ridiculous stuff might happen…..:-)

    1. Scott-
      Yeah… it’s easy to forget about the “leaving the camera unattended” thing with my hubby. Still happens to me, but as you can see… totally worth it! Love the pic.
      And for the record you got 3 flower shots that I saw…I’m just sayin’. :-)
      Thanks for making me laugh harder and have more fun shooting than I have in a very long time.

  5. I think, Scott, Annie brings up a good point. None of my pictures are any good either, so we can chalk it all off to the fact that nothing was sharp cause we were all laughing too hard to hold our cameras steady…..Joe

  6. Belated happy 50th Scott. You picked a great spot to celebrate. I don’t do the big party thing and spent my 40th with family in Upstate NY – my 50th is only a couple of years away and Spain sounds like a good idea, providing we avoid the Costa’s and ex-pat Brits!

  7. Happy Birthday Scott. It is a natural thing work/life balance. You need that to stay fresh, creative, and energized. Remember Habit #7 (Dr. Stephen Covey) “Sharpen The Saw” it is an absolutely essential principle of life. :)


  8. That’s what vacations are all about, relaxing and having a good time with your family. Happy Birthday !!! I’m sure you’ll pull off some wonderful shots on your next business trip but sometimes it’s really just nice to relax and enjoy the sunset and not worry about whether you got a good shot. Take care.
    Mike Meyer

  9. The photo of Joe must be from his new dvd “Light Refracting tools a dentists guide to photography” (just kidding, Mr. Mcnally)… Sr.)) :) A Very Happy Late Birthday!!! Scott. Nice place for some R & R, Barcelona been there 3 times and there is always some thing new to see and revist, but Portugal well what can i say :)

  10. belated happy birthday, Scott. I’m glad that “despite” the lack of photos, you had a great time there – i think the mental photos and moments you have with friends + loved ones will be more vivid and more precious than any photos you could have taken.

    Joe did take a great pic – that’s one totally unexpected SP!

  11. Sometimes nothing is what you really need to do when you travel… take it from me.. you get use to it!

    Glad you got a recharge, looking forward to what’s next at NAPP!

    Happy Birthday big-un.



  12. Happy BD, Sir! I am not at all ashamed that I am too late, I have a good excuse of not being aware of the fact. Besides, in Russia we usually stick to «better late than never» attitude in these cases, as attention is precious at any time of year, even when talking about Xmas.

  13. Scott, happy birthday! Glad to hear that you had a wonderful vacation! I love the way your daughter holds the camera and shoot! Very cute! See you next Monday in the Big Apple!

  14. So why didn’t you get a set of “keepers”? Spain is a great photo op! Was it because you were mentally on a non-photo vacation? or maybe you were playing tourist and now back home you aren’t. or as Maisel would say you’ve seen it all before? What is wrong with a dry moat or were your expectations higher? Joe provided you a great picture, what was in his camera? In short, this is the making of a great teaching segment: what did I see (or didn’t) that made it a bad picture, or was it just me!

    1. Jeff, great idea! I’m going out this weekend and celebrate Scotts birthday (Smoky Mts). Hey I’m 5 years older than Scott but I still feel like a teenager (my wife says I act like one so it’s true!). :)

      1. Hey Ken & Scott,
        I’m between you two at 52. I know Scott feels like a teenager too. My wife calls me her 5 year old. Thank the good lord she is there to keep me in line.

  15. Happy belated 50th Scott, though I never would have guessed it. I thought you were in your early 40’s. Anyway, hope you had a well deserved break with your family & friends. :)

  16. I dunno Scott, some of us “young’uns” would be thrilled to have a few of those balloon shots. Glad to hear you had a great birthday. The way you give to others you sure do deserve it.

  17. Oh that’s awesome! Happy be-lated 50th to ya! What a great time vacationing like that and it such a cool part of the world. Glad you’re back! Brad does a great job though when you’re otherwise occupied :)

  18. Happy belated Birthday Mr. Kelby!! It must have bee wonderful celbrating your birthday in Spain! I’m only 18 now, maybe when I’m 50 I’ll do the same. Glad your back!

  19. Happy Birthday, Scott – not a bad city to celebrate in!

    I live in Barcelona and, coincidentally, have just put up a few Sitges shots on my personal blog, with a few more to come later in the week:

    I think that the town with the river must have been Girona which is north of Barca? It’s beautiful there too:

    What a shame that you didn’t have time for a Photowalk!


  20. Scott, by the way, it’s great to see Kira following in her dads footsteps! My 10 year old grandson has joined my photowalk with his P-6000 (he has been shooting with it for 2years). I am teaching him PS now. He actually follows your blog too. To be honest I thought you were younger than 50.

  21. Hey Scott,
    Your last two paragraphs say it all. Even though you didn’t get any good photos, you have a memory and had a great vacation. There is always a siver lining somewhere. I have had 6 back operations. The best thing that ever happened to me. I now have an education, and have found a passion in photography/Photoshop thanks to all areas of Kelby Training.
    You Rock my friend! See ya in 47 days!!
    PS I pre-ordered your CS5 book yesterday from Kelby Training. Will you sign it for me?

  22. Happy Birthday! Sometimes it’s nice having the extra weight of a camera. Of course, I carry my camera nearly everyday and feel like I’m forgetting something when I don’t take it with me, which is why having my iPhone in hand is really nice.

  23. Happy Birthday Scott, sounds like you had a blast. Having read many of yours and Joes books and knowing that you both are the same in person. I am sure the ribs hurt from laughing, what a wonderful way to spend a 50th.

  24. Scott, Tx for this, and happy belated birthday.

    The big 50! Life is like a movie: all the exciting stuff happens in the second half. The first half is just introductory! :-)

    I find it totally encouraging that a Pro like you can go away and come back two weeks later relaxed and re-energized — and without a single shot to show for it. Tx for sharing that!

  25. Happy Birthday Scott!

    If I would have known that you are so close to us (five hours in car) I would have invited you and all your family and friends to a dinner.

    Best regards from Spain,


  26. Hi Scott

    I was a student at GPP2010 in Dubai, at Joe McNally’s group. I also enjoyed hanging around with Matt, his wife and mom, David Hobby, Joey L, assistants…

    And turns out that I live in Barcelona.

    They are all fantastic. I was really shocked about how friendly they can all be (wives and moms included!) to someone completely new, foreign to your culture and language, just like that…

    And they are A-MA-ZING professionists. Both simple and overwhelming at the same time.

    I gave Joe a card of mine, just in case you needed a local contact. Just in case.

    I just want to say I wish I could have been you local guide, and show you around. It would have been my birthday present, to someone like you who is so generous with the photographer’s community



  27. Oh Happy Birthday, Scott ! I’m from Barcelonan and I live in Barcelona and I’m happy seeing that you visit my city and also the beautiful Sitges and the Balloon Festival in Igualada (I went a couple of times !) ! And I remember seeing in your first Digital Photography book some street pictures taken in Barcelona years ago :) !

  28. And I never thought I’d take a picture like Joe McNally, turns out I’ve taken hundreds, usually when someone is foolish enough to leave their phone unattended when I’m around they’ll come back to find their wallpaper, screen saver, start up image, and anything else I can find has changed to a very similar self portrait to Joe’s :p
    Just come back from holiday myself and I managed to take more photos than I ever have done before on holiday, am slightly scared to go through them as I’ll be pretty gutted if I haven’t got some nice shot … fingers crossed.

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