“What I Learned…” (Part 2)

At every seminar we do, at the end of the day we ask the participants to fill out an evaluation form, to let us know how we did, but most importantly what we can do to make the day even better. I know those eval forms are a pain in the butt to fill out, but after the seminar I personally read every single one of them. I want to find out what’s resonating with the participants, what they want more of, what they want less of, and what I can add or take away that would make the day better.

I take this stuff really seriously
In fact, there are four things I changed, tweaked and added in Orlando, Cologne, and Amsterdam that came directly from the eval forms from my seminars in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. In fact, I shot a special on location video for my seminar just to be able to add more about shooting with off-camera hot-shoe flash. I also added a product shoot to the day, and I adjusted the amount of time, and type of retouching I’m doing in the sessions—all based on their feedback.

What I learned in Germany and Holland
As I mentioned yesterday, I know people are struggling with light meters, and I’m going to try to find a way to incorporate enough about using a flash meter in the day to at least clear some of the fog and confusion—even just a bit (including a great tip from Frank Doorhof’s presentation in Amsterdam). I’m also going to post a short demo-video they can watch afterward to help them get up and running from scratch. Hey, it’s a start.

The Whole “Lightroom vs Bridge” thing
Matt Kloskowski and I wound up doing something earlier this year to help our seminar participants with the confusion a lot of them are experiencing because they have the Bridge and Camera Raw, so they figure they don’t need Lightroom. We did this in response to question after question about this at our seminars, and so we create one hundred 60-second or less short video clips called “100 ways Lightroom kicks the Bridge’s A$$!” Even though it was made for our seminar attendees, you can watch it right here.

Overthinking and Making the Hidden Stuff More Discoverable
Yesterday, in Part One, I mentioned how a lot of folks seemed to be overthinking all this lighting and Photoshop stuff, and some stuff they want to do is already there—-in Photoshop and Lightroom—it’s just hidden beneath the surface. To that end, I’m going to step-up my crusade to make all this stuff more accessible, more fun and just plain easier. I want to be the guy that lifts the veil from some of this hidden stuff, and I really want to make learning Photoshop and Lightroom less of a mystery and more of pleasure.

I wasn’t judging—I was just reporting
Yesterday I mentioned that nobody ever asks about Creativity, or Composition, or Art, or any of those types of things at the seminars—it’s all pretty much questions about watt power, sync speeds, Photoshop techniques, and stuff like that. More technical stuff. I wasn’t judging—I was just reporting on that fact.

That being said, I’m working on a new project about Photo Composition
Although I don’t get asked a lot about composition in my live seminars, I know from emails and comments that a lot of photographers out there are struggling with it, and recently I had kind of an epiphany about teaching the art of photographic composition (and why every book on the topic teaches it pretty much the same way it has always been taught—-rule of thirds, leading lines, and so on). However, I think I’ve come up with a brand new way of teaching photo composition that I’ve never seen anyone teach ever, and I think has a chance to help photographers in a really impactful and groundbreaking way.

I’m going to start this project by inviting about 150 photographers to join me one evening, in a beautiful outdoor amphitheater in Tampa, Florida, as I present this one-hour class on composition (which will also be taped for Kelby Training Online). More on this as we lock down a date, but it’s the very next class I want to produce, and I’m really excited about it.

I need your feedback
I’m heading down to Miami with my tour next Monday, and then to Denver, Portland, Los Angeles, and Philly—-all in September. If you come out to join me for any of those days, you’ll benefit from all the people who filled out evaluation forms at all the seminars prior to that. But that’s the great part of doing an on-going tour—you get to tweak and improve it as you go. If you do come out, take an extra minute and let me know what’s working and what you want added, so the tour can continue to evolve and grow.

I don’t have all the answers
I don’t have half of them. But I really want to help, and I’ll do everything I can to help you get the most out of your photography, out of lighting, Photoshop, Lightroom, and just enjoying all of these awesome tools we get to use today. Thanks everybody. Your comments on those eval forms, and here on the blog, truly do make a difference.

  1. I am very interested in seeing how you are going to teach composition. I have recently picked up a few books on the subject because if your composition is not great, photoshop is of little help to you. I am really glad you are going to try to tackle the topic!

  2. I can’t wait to see that class and how you teach composition! As far as I know, you are selling yourself short, you do have all the answers and that is why we all come here to read and learn. Thank you for your passion of teaching, please keep it going!

  3. Hey Scott….because I love you, if you pay for my flight and stay in Tampa, then I would be glad to come and be a part of that class — anything to help you out :)

    Oh, by the way, I live in Russia, but I would sacrifice the time.

    I’m kidding of course…I know that those who get to attend will have a great time! I am excited to hear about your new approach!

    Can’t thank you guys enough for your attitudes to share, share, give, give, and help the photography community! You guys really do rock!

  4. All good points Scott but for some/many of your followers there’s not much chance of ever getting to one of your seminars/workshops. There is a place called the Southern Hemisphere.
    You’ve hit upon most of the difficulties I have with the technical. Kelby Training could do with a spotlight on all this stuff.
    I’m always happy to seen anything on composition, creativity or art too.

  5. I’ve been using Lightroom since the Beta and I’ve never found it mysterious. It’s probably the easiest software program to learn and use which can produce such sophisticated images. Using Lightroom is like riding a bicycle. You never really forget.
    Photoshop requires you to use it regularly to keep those photo manipulation skills sharp. I regularly refer to one of the Photoshop books I own to refresh my memory on a technique. I’ve never even felt the need to own a book on Lightroom. Lightroom makes it easier to concentrate on composition and creativity.

    1. I think any new software can be intimidating at first but once you start playing with it, you become comfortable with how it works. I found this to be true with Lightroom, Capture One, Aperture, DxO, Bibble, Raw Developer, and Raw Photo Processor. The only exception to this rule is Photoshop because the workflow is less apparent. So I totally agree with you that if you’re not using it on a regular basis, you can forget quickly how to get a particular result.

  6. Hats off to you Scott for your genuine desire to teach and share with others, and it’s this ‘genuine desire’ to teach that is clearly shared by everybody connected with you at the NAPP and Kelby Training.

    I’ll echo the words of every comment above by saying a genuine ‘Thanks’ for everything you do and continue to do to help, teach, inspire and motivate people around the world; do you really know the extent of the positive impact you’re having I wonder?


    1. Hey Scott,
      I have to agree with Glyn and everyone above.
      You and everyone at Kelby Training and NAPP are allways giving your outmost to help become better.
      As I live in Switzerland I don’t have much chance on seeing you guys live (an the time you come to Europe I’m away on holydays :) )

      So all the terific classe you make for us are amazing and are pack with great information that helps everyone around the world.

      Thanks so much for everything you guys do for us. (as Ken Sayed, It’s amazing how you find time todo all that you do)


  7. Hi Scott!

    Video tutorials are always VERY welcome!

    Please just look out for any song that may be used as background. Some months ago you posted a video here linking to youtube that could not be watched in Germany because some music used was not licensed to play in Germany, so youtube blocked the video :-)

    Thanks in advance!

  8. I listened to the podcast and learned some great insights into your mindset. That you have this great desire to share all the knowledge that you have learned and I mean truly share. You are not satisfied until you know that anyone who takes the time to listen actually understands what they want and need to understand to help make them a better photographer. Wouldn’t be so nice if more humans did the same for other aspects of life. As far as feedback goes, yes I am totally interested in the light meter aspect and using it with TTL Nikon Speedlights without any other radio triggers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you do for all of us.

    1. Hi Harold. it will be filled on a first-come, first served basis. I think the amphitheater holds around 150, and once those tickets are gone, it’s full. We’re going to have a $5 admission fee, with 100% of those proceeds going to the Springs of Hope Orphanage, so we could raise $750 from the class. Keep an eye on my blog for details, which are coming very soon. :)

  9. “….. But I really want to help, and I’ll do everything I can to help ……..”

    My dear Scott,

    You are Always a great Master ……
    Thanks for everything that you shared all these years.

    Best Wishes

  10. You were discussing that you had not seen anyone really teaching composition, etc outside the typical rule of thirds type comments. Check out Art Wolfe’s website and his Art of Composition series. Art decided a few years ago to get away from discussions of how do I do X in Photoshop and instead work to develop the eye and brain of the photographer. It is a really excellent course taught by Art in a very leisurely style. Highly recommended.

  11. Scott,
    I’ve been following you silently for years now. I’ve read your books, joined NAPP, keep up with your blog, attend Kelby training online and watch the occasional Kelby TV production, but it hasn’t been until the interview in San Francisco that I had that lightbulb moment. The reason I like to listen to you is that you care. You REALLY care about what you do. And what you do is to teach all of us this cool stuff with cameras and photoshop and stuff, and well, I just dig that. Thanks for caring enough to read our comments and to respond and to teach us all the new cool stuff. Now if I could just get to see you in person someday to just shake your hand and thank you.

  12. Love your idea on a class about composition! I’ve just ordered Matt’s book on compositing and I’m excited about that one too. I would love to attend your composition class if a space is available. Can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

  13. I think some of the reason that you don’t get comments about composition, creativity, and art might be because you are “THE PHOTOSHOP GUY” I don’t want to know how Starbuck’s creates a warm inviting atmosphere to enjoy my coffee in, I want to know how they made the coffee. Anyway, I have a great respect for your willingness to change your programs to suite the needs of the attendees. Keep up the good work.
    P.S. How do you feel about composition, creativity, and art? :-)

  14. With regards to your comment on art within Photoshop, please do your self a favor and check out Woody Walters at Woody’s World Digital Photo Candy. Amazing art.

  15. oooh a composition class :) I haven’t had one of those since college…some of my favorite classes in college were comp classes, it taught me how to use the creativity in my head and heart. How to release it to canvas or through photos or paper. Sure technical knowledge has its place, but I gotta say, very excited about the idea of a composition class.

    Good luck with all your great ideas!

  16. I think the Composition course is a great idea. As with anything creative, it’s very helpful to have a solid foundation. A week ago, I was with a group of photographers and watched as one composed a shot with a model sitting sideways on a restaurant bench. The bottom of her shoe was closest to the lens. I presume he was trying to get some leading lines on her legs, but I couldn’t help but think she’s going to have an awfully big foot & small head in that image.

    In my mind, photography is like music. People learn technical details much like practicing scales, but only those who understand how those notes relate to each other can create beautiful new music. The rest are just reading tabs to replicate someone else’s song. Having that foundation of knowledge and understanding how the elements relate to each other does wonders for creativity.

  17. Hey Scott,
    The composition project sounds like its right up my alley. My friends say my work is good, but compared to yours & other instructors of PSW & Kelby Enterprises, my work really sucks. It’s as if I think too much when I’m shooting. If I was standing next to say Moose Peterson and we both took photographs, his would be amazing and mine would be so so at best. I can’t wait.
    See ya in about 3 weeks when I will be standing next to Moose & Joe on the Photo Safari. I can’t wait.

  18. Scott:
    I was really considering attending your Miami class next week. However I am a Lightroom and Photoshop Elements guy… no CS5. Is it worth my attending?

  19. I wish I could be part of the Composition class but it is not in the cards at this time. Elaine I also can not get the link to Lightroom Vs. Bridge to work.

  20. Hi Scott,

    Firstly I attended your Vancouver seminar and really LOVED it. I actually drove up from Seattle and will probably come to the Seattle one you are holding in November too – it was that good.

    Like most people I hate the feedback forms at the end of the day, we are all tired and our heads are really full, and I always think of questions I wish I could have asked the following day. Maybe you could encourage people to submit feedback later on an online form, then we can digest the information and give you better feedback.

    That said I TOTALLY love the idea of you showing more with speedlights. I have strobes, same one you use and they are fantastic, but they aren’t very portable. So I purchased a couple of SB-900’s but I suck using them. I totally agree with the comments above about my pictures look like I’ve used flash’s! I watch David Hobby and Joe McNally and they make it all look so easy. Having you give some guidance would be fantastic.

    Once again LOVED the seminar – please keep coming back to the Pacific North West.


  21. Hey Scott,

    I attended your outstanding seminar in Toronto. My biggest take away was that I use Lightroom too much. I was doing everything, including skin retouching, in Lightroom. I had forgotten how much more powerful the CS5 tools are. I’ll be retouching this summer’s Senior portraits in CS5, once I have done basic corrections in Lightroom.

  22. I found your website and tried to click on your 100 Reasons from Aug 16 but, the link will not show the film clips.

    I have your Digital 1,2, & 3 books and I have really tried many of your suggestions.

    I would likr to view the clips.

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