DISCLAIMER: This story has nothing to do with photography, or Photoshop or Lightroom or anything like that. It’s just about my birthday, which was awesome because I have an awesome wifey, which is what the story is about. Just so you know. 

It actually started Saturday nightâ¦
So, the wifey and I are sitting around the kitchen table Saturday evening when I see an email come in with those words from Delta I long to hear⦓Your upgrade is now confirmed.”  I assumed it was for a business trip I have coming up to New York in the next week or so, but then I look at the dates and it says Sunday, July 6th.

I’m  looking at it,  and I say out loud to Kalebra, “Could I have accidentally booked a meeting on my birthday?” She doesn’t answer but when I look over at her she has this big smile on her face. She says “Tomorrow morning I’m taking you and our son up to New York City to celebrate your birthday!!!”

Well, I was psyched!!! First, I love birthday surprises (especially the kind Kalebra plans!!!) and I love to travel, and I love New York, and I just about to burst! Now, just to give you an idea how perfect this day is about to become, all three of us got the free upgrade, and my son is only Silver Medallion (Delta’s lowest loyalty ranking for frequent flyers), but he still got the upgrade. That rarely happens! This day is so gonna rock! :)

I didn’t bring a cameraâ¦
It was a birthday trip, so I left all my camera gear at home and took these shots with my iPhone (that’s looking up at Rockefeller Center. Also known as 30 Rock, or the GE Building, and it’s also home to NBC).

First stop â” Top of the Rock!
My son hadn’t been to New York since he was a little boy, so our first stop was to visit the rooftop observatory on the top of Rockefeller Center so he could see the magnificent skyline.

Above: I have to admit I was a little stunned when I picked up the tickets for the elevator ride to the top and saw it was $87 for the three of us. Ack! Apparently that deterred no one â” it was packed up there and there were long lines  just to go up and again to come back down. It made me want to get in the observatory business. ;-)

But what a view up there!
I’ve always gone up to the top of the Empire State Building in years past, but then you don’t get a view of the coolest building in the skyline, because you’re standing on it. At 30 Rock, you see the whole shebang (Note: Shabang is a registered trademark of Peter Hurley Industries and is used under a written agreement signed in blood during a ritualistic conclave for the Royal Order of the Sacred Squinch).

Above: I did some iPhone panos, too but I liked this regular ol’ shot best. The iPhone is great in nice daylight.

Above: Next stop â” Carmine’s on West 44th (Mmmmmmmm, Carmine’s!). It’s my favorite restaurant anywhere! (I know, I know, there are better Italian Restaurants in NYC, blah, blah, blah, so there’s no need to tell me [again] that it’s just  for tourists and then tell me where I should go next time instead and all that, because I just love that place! The wifey and my son love it, too. Their Chicken Scaloppine is insane!).  Anyway, they just opened one in Vegas (in the Caesar’s Palace Forum Shops) so I might get to eat there again in September. Whoo Hoo!

Above: The wifey got this shot of me in Carmine’s basking in the glow that is Carmine’s!

Lunch was just incredibly delicious, but after lunchâ¦
It was off the Sam Ash â” the amazing musical instrument store. By the way; we have a number of Sam Ash stores right in my hometown, but not like the original one in New York. It was guitar heaven!

Above: iPhone pano of the fancy room with guitars that I never buy. The guitars I buy are out in the main showroom â” this is where they keep the “good stuff.”

Above: That’s me with my birthday present â” a brand new, 120th Anniversary Edition, Gibson Les Paul Classic! I was pretty blown away (to say the least).

Above: Here’s a closer look. If you’re coming to Photoshop World Vegas, you’ll see me playing it on stage at the attendee party where I’ll be playing with my band, “Big Electric Cat.” 

That’s right â” “Kalebra for President!”
She takes me in the room with “The good stuff” so I can pick out a guitar as my birthday present. How awesomely insane is that!!!!

I had been looking at this very same Les Paul online (I’ve always wanted a black Les Paul ever since I saw Peter Frampton playing one during his original “Frampton Comes Alive!” tour which I caught in Lakeland, Florida back in like 1976, though his actually has three pickups â” there’s an extra one in-between the two you see here). Anyway, it’s being shipped to me today â” should be here by Wednesday. Mega-psyched!

Above: the cast of “Motown: The Musical.” I took this iPhone shot (I didn’t use a flash or anything) and an usher ran over to me and about took my head off, and while she’s yelling at me, flashes are going off throughout the audience. I didn’t argue or anything (especially since the iPhone isn’t great under these types of lighting situations) I just put my phone away, but just so you know, I did stick my tongue out once she was gone and made a grumpy face. That’ll teach her! ;-)

Time for a Broadway Show!
After Sam Ash, the wifey takes us to see “Motown: The Musical.” It was awesome and she got us just great seats â” six rows back from the stage, center, on the aisle! Fantastic music (of course), good story (learned lots of things I didn’t know about Barry Gordy and Diana Ross and the Motown family). Plus, really great dancing and staging. Really a fun show all the way around (my son really loved it)!!!!

One more thing! A quick stop at Junior’s for Cheescake!
The weather was beautiful (about 82° with a nice breeze and low humidity), so we sat outside at Junior’s and it was a perfect end to the day (and I split an awesome slice of cheesecake with my son).

Having my son come along (our daughter stayed home with Grandma â” she’s still a little too young for a whirlwind day like this, and a long Broadway show of songs she’s never heard), really made this day so special for me (and he totally loved the trip; especially the show, and the drum department at Sam Ash, and Carmine’s andâ¦heck, he liked it all. He’s a lot of fun to travel with).

Even a perfect day comes to an end
After Junior’s we headed right back to the airport where we had landed just nine hours before. Before you knew it, we were back home (where I’m sitting on the couch writing this now).

Although we definitely celebrated yesterdayâ¦
â¦today’s my actual birthday, so I’m taking the day off today to recoup. LOL! Hey, you only turn 38 once, right? ;-)

Thanks for letting me share this story with you today
â¦the story of my mega-awesome wife surprising me with a perfect day â” and one I’ll never forget!

Hope your day today is every bit as good! (but without the whole getting older part, which we can probably do without, though Kalebra says getting older sure beats the alternative). :)

Best,

-Scott

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About The Author

Scott is the President of KelbyOne, an online educational community for Photographers, Photoshop and Lightroom users. He's editor and publisher of Photoshop User Magazine, Conference Technical Chair for the Photoshop World Conference, and the author of a string of bestselling Photoshop, Lightroom, and photography books.

83 Comments

  1. Happy Birthday Scott! Looking forward to seeing you in Vegas!

  2. What an action packed day in the Big Apple. I’m tired just reading about everything you guys did. Nothing like Manhattan to celebrate.

  3. Awesome! Happy Birthday!

  4. Nice birthday trip huh? ………E
    very guy needs a wife like Kalebra huh? Happy Birthday (maybe see you in Vegas)

  5. Happy Days! Hope to see you in Vegas.

  6. Happy Birthday! Sounds like it was a great day! I love NYC!

  7. Wow, what a day! Can Kalebra plan my next birthday for my wife? I’d do everything you did, except go to B & H Photo instead of the guitar store! Hope you have a relaxing time today.

    How is it that we share the same birth year, but you’re still 38? Maybe that Fountain of Youth really is in Florida….. :-) Happy Birthday, Scott!

    –John

    • John, the key is picking a number and sticking to it! LOL!! We actually saw B&H and it was killing me not to go in there (it’s my favorite store in the world). But I had to get to the show, so I missed it. I’ll be making a day trip up there soon, though. Can’t wait. :)

      • Scott — we’re thrilled you had such a great birthday and I’m jealous of the Les Paul, which is gorgeous. You’re a lucky man to have such a wife and we wish you both all the best. — Henry Posner / B&H Photo-Video

  8. Hey Scott,
    Frampton is one of the acts I never got to see, but wish I could have. Hmmm, my math says you saw the show as an infant! :) Congrats on the great day especially with your family. With all you share with all of us, you deserve it.
    Mike

  9. Happy B’day Scott ~ thanks for your dedication and passion . . . you inspire me! oh, and I too love Carmines!

  10. Hey Scott, Happy Birthday :) You sure had one great day in NYC. Do you have any videos online of you playing with your band? Have you visited Frankie and Benny’s over in the UK, it’s a great a great New York Italian Restaurant and Bar chain.

  11. Happy birthday from Denmark! And thank you for the great story. I must say: I envy you. I want a Gibson Les Paul too.

  12. Happy Birthday Scott ~ What a day!!! Geez, I live here and have never been to all those places! Will Kalebra adopt me ;)
    – All kidding aside… YOU DESERVE ONLY THE BEST!!!
    – Sending wishes for MORE blessings than you can ever count!
    – When will you be teaching again here at the Javits?
    BTW, Happy Birthday AGAIN!
    LUV & Hugs ~Roz Fruchtman

  13. You breath “Advertising”… day/night.

  14. Happy birthday Scott! :)

  15. Hey Scott, Happy Birthday! I freelanced at NBC. Could have taken you on a studio tour. BTW, the original Sam Ash was in my neighborhood in Brooklyn.

  16. happy Birthday Scott! Thanks for sharing the story of your amazing birthday with us!

  17. Happy birthday, Scott. Sounds like a wonderful day with family (and a growing Les Paul collection)!

  18. Happy Birthday Scott. If it is true, then your birthday is on July 7. If that is so, so is mine. Wow, just another connection between you and I. Hope you had a good one.

  19. Happy Birthday Scott! How blessed you are to have a family as special as yours!

  20. Happy Birthday! I am usually working during my birthday because of May sweeps. I need to get out of broadcasting.

  21. Happy Birthday Scott !! Have an awesome day !

  22. Happy Birthday ! What a perfect day :)

  23. Happy Birthday Mr. Kelby. Great blog. Incredible guitar!

  24. HAPPY BDAY Scott…and that is a FINE guitar, wow. One heck of a birthday…thanks for sharing with us…

  25. Hey Scott, Happy Birthday! I too like most people love NYC! I will be there next week. I was at the “Top of the Rock” last Sept it was awesome. Never ate at Carmine’s we usually go to Katz’s Deli down on Houston St. for lunch. Have a great day (don’t know if you could top the best one you had yesterday)!

  26. Happy Birthday from Germany!!! Great present and fun story to read… :-)

  27. Happy Birthday. How will you ever repay such a gift from your wife? You are one lucky man. Best wishes for many more.

  28. Aww… shoot! I live on 44th & Broadway but I just happened to be in Newcastle, England while you were in my neighborhood… damn it, I sure would have liked to have met you Scott. I have several of your books and have seen your video seminar at B&H. I really admire your work & your style of instruction. Glad you had such a great time in NYC.

  29. Happy birthday Scott!
    That’s so awesome!

  30. Happy Birthday! Sounds like a great day and an awesome wife!

  31. Scott … Happy “38th” Birthday! Sounds like a great day. Thanks for sharing it with your fans. … Can’t resist the opportunity to also say “thanks” for your work in the Photography world. Your style, passion, professionalism, and willingness to share is truly appreciated. Here’s to many more years of health & happiness for you and your family!

  32. Happy birthday Scott! Sam Ash at NYC is really “the heaven” for me (I bought a Fender bass guitar in, believe, an insane trip to Brazil. Hope someday attend the Vegas event in LV. Take care!

  33. Surprises are always good. Happy B-day!

  34. Happy Birthday Scott – many happy returns. I’m going to be in New York with wife to be on honeymoon in October so appreciate the heads up on food places to visit. Do you have any other recommendations on nice eateries? Hopefully you can make it over here to the Shetland Islands one day :-)

  35. Wow, she’s a keeper for sure.

  36. I hope you are planning to top that weekend when it comes time for Kalebra’s 21st birthday. She is singing with Big Cat isn’t she?

  37. What a great story Scott. Thanks for sharing and Happy Birthday!

  38. Happy birthday, Scott. Mine was on Friday, so we share July with the USA! Did you know there’s a Carmine’s in DC, just a few blocks from the Convention Center? Next time you are here, you can go (should you choose).

  39. Happy Birthday Scott!! Thank you for all you do for us guys out here in Kelby Land. I’m glad you loved my city (yes it’s mine and your not the only one that can make corny jokes) and I wish you and all your family the best. Enjoy your summer, see you in Vegas!!

  40. She sounds like one of the all-time greats, and the true best birthday gift of all.

  41. Happy Birthday, Scott! Wow, your family’s the best. That was a very memorable day. Good photographers take fine photos with any camera. You just proved it. Thanks for the fun read.

  42. Happy Birthday Scott – what an epic celebration !!

  43. Happy Birthday Scott! Did you ask why Kalebra didn’t fly you :)

  44. What better place to celebrate your birthday than New York City (except maybe El Segundo – NOT)? Felicitations! Great iPhone photos. Since my wife got a Samsung Galaxy phone, I find that her shots are usually better than the ones I take with my Nikon (maybe it’s the photographer….). All the best!

  45. What a fantastic day Scott. Belated birthday wishes from the Isle of Wight

  46. I appreciate you sharing your day with the rest of us! You can’t put a price on those kind of memories.

  47. Birthday in NYC. What a great trip. Happy Birthday Scott!

  48. Happy Birthday Scott

  49. Happy birthday and can’t wait to hear you play your Les Paul Classic at PSW Vegas!

  50. HBD! Hope you have a great one! 🎂

  51. Happy birthday Scott! Thanks for sharing not only your expertise and skills with us but also your life. You’re a great testimony. Enjoy that Les Paul!

  52. Scott you look awesomely good in that shot of you sitting down holding the Les Paul in Sam Ash! Happy Day and glad you had a fantastic time with your family!!! I ate a whole bunch of home baked chocolate chip cookies in your honor :)

  53. Happy Belated Birthday Scott! Glad you had fun in my home town. Great day trip and a lucky man with a wife like Kalebra to plan this surprise. Of course, I would have opted for the original Junior’s in Brooklyn — can’t beat cheesecake at the place where it started. But hey, I’m nitpicking :-) And, there is nothing wrong with Carmines! Some of us New Yawkers like it too!

    And I can’t wait to hear what that Les Paul sounds like when I’m at PSW again in September!

  54. Happy birthday dude! I love Carmine’s and also Sopia’s (next to Marquis on Times Sq). You can keep that ole PRS, I have my autographed Schector right here :)

  55. Excellent Scott and well deserved. Reading this, made me feel happy, so thanks for sharing the joy.

  56. Very well deserved surprised bday blast. Thanks for sharing and making me feel the HAPPINESS you had. WOW!!!! just WOW!!! :) You validated my Quality Time principles LOL Happy happy birthday Scott!

  57. Thats a beautiful story! Living the dream, Mr. Kelby!

  58. Happy Birthday, Scott. I like wifey’s style. Great story, great reading, great memories, thanks for sharing.

  59. Happy Birthday Scott to a fellow July 6-er!! My twin sister and I (who look nothing alike) are happy we all share the same birthday. See you at PSW next spring, that will be my 9th! Thanks to you and all the crew, Kelby One is the only way to go.

  60. Happy Birthday my friend! A day late…….

  61. Happy Birthday Scott!!!! If it wasn’t for you and your vision, the bar for the typical photographer would be set way down lower than what it is now. Thanks to you, there are far much more amazing photographs available on the internet to enjoy. Also, talented teachers and great photographers like yourself, Joe McNally, Cliff Mautner, Moose Peterson etc would not have had the huge exposure they have today. Therefore, many, many people like myself would be missing out on their teachings. You have changed the world of photography my friend, and for the better. Thank-you so much!!!

  62. Happy Birthday Scott! I’m glad you got to enjoy your day with your family. That new Les Paul is going to sound awesome through your Marshall!

  63. Happy Birthday Scott! What a wonderful way to spend a birthday!

  64. Happy BirthdayScott, Great Celebration indeed!!!

  65. Belated birthday wishes…thank you for sharing but more importanly, glad it was an awesome one for you!.

  66. You have one awesome wifey! I’m being taken to NYC for my birthday too!

  67. Happy b’day!. I know you are much younger that Jack Benny so I think you are exaggerating the 38 so you won’t get carded in L.V. this fall. (Jack was only 39. For years.)

    The LP is a sweet ax. I’m sure you’ll not let it sit around and get dusty.

    More important than the ax was was the time with the family. That was the best present of the day. You didn’t say it directly but it shows in the post. It is a gift that cannot be bought.

  68. Happy Birthday Scott!!!!!!!….Delta is great first class from Tampa… We flew in to Ny from Tampa last week.(we live in Tierra Verde)..we went from Long Island into the city today to the Empire State Building! First time i didn’t take my 5dMark3 to NY… I got little cam the other day…you should review it canon G1X Mark II … i think its great…a little learning curb… though.

  69. Happy Birthday Scott…You really deserve it.

  70. Sounds like an amazing bonding session family and Les Paul, you deserve every millisecond, you have brought enlightenment to so many through your incredibly hard work at Kelby. Long may you and it last. Have a very happy birthday. Very sincerely Rory.

  71. what a great day! Thanks for sharing with us, everything looked perfect! By the way, I honestly love your online courses, you are one of my favorite online photography teachers, I learned a lot from you! You are an inspiration for a lot of us -please keep up the good work, and a very happy birthday!

  72. Happy Birthday, Scott….you are still a kid! A different kind of posting unrelated to photography, with still some photography titbits, as expected from someone with your passion for photos. I enjoyed reading and feeling the youthful eagerness as you went about your day. I am coming to NY for the umpteenth time and was actually planning on taking my daughters next week up to the top of the Rock, so the timing of this is remarkable. Keep the passion alive, I and others have benefited from it, great to see you so happy on your birthday with your loved ones!

  73. Happy BIrthday.

  74. So nice to hear all your appreciation for your loving family and generous efforts
    !! That’s what makes it beautiful and happy! Not decadent :) Happy birthday big guy

  75. Happy Birthday Scott Kelby! You are such a great story teller. I wish more photographers would tell the story behind the pictures.

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