This is an Amazing Guitar, But That Night I Got Something So Much More…

Friday before last, my company threw a big party for me to celebrate my being “The #1 Best Selling Book Author in Computers or Photography for 10 Consecutive Years.” 

My awesome wife Kalebra organized the event (she is the queen of incredible events), and since my wonderful Publisher Peachpit Press had already presented me with a beautiful award during Photoshop World, she wanted to do something really unique to commemorate this milestone. So she called my whole family up on stage and presented me with the amazing Paul Reed Smith Custom guitar (you see above), with a personalized plaque right below the bridge (a close up of the plaque is seen below).

I have a few PRS (Paul Reed Smith) guitars but they are all “SE” models, which are their much lower-priced kind of “entry-level” models, and I dearly love mine (they don’t play like entry level models). But when my wife handed this one to me, I didn’t (at first) realize it wasn’t an SE model ”this was the ‘real deal” my first real PRS! Well, as blown away as I was, I was not at all prepared for what was coming next…

What came next…
So I’m standing there holding the guitar, and everybody’s clapping, and my daughter and son are there and I keep saying to my wife, “This is a real PRS!!!” and the whole thing is kind of surreal. Then my wife says, “Your son wants to say something,” and she hands him the mic.

Now, my son is a really good public speaker, and he started by cracking a couples of little jokes that got everybody laughing. But then he started into his speech”one that absolutely had me and everybody speechless.

I wish I had it on tape, but I’ll paraphrase as best I can. Here’s what he said:

“Dad, I was 7-years-old when you won this award for the first time and now it’s been 10 years in a row. This has been a tremendous amount of work for you, but when I was in elementary school, and we had presentations at school, you were always there. When I played basketball or soccer in middle school, you were always at my games. When we had parent/teacher conferences at school you were always there…”

…and he went on and on through all the times he needed me there, from dealing with a broken heart to cheering at his Crew races, and he listed them one after another in a list that seemed to go on forever, and he ended every single one with “and you were always there…” By this time I’m in tears and everybody at the party is in tears, and he’s just describing this all so eloquently, and he’s on stage in front of this large crowd, and he keeps listing all these things and then he pauses for a moment and saysâ¦

“And you know what all this taught me, dad?”

And the whole place goes silent. And he says…

It taught me how to be a man.” 

That was it — tears just came pouring out, and I hugged him, and everybody cheered, and it was literally one of the most amazing moments of my entire life. There isn’t a dad out there that could have asked for his son to say anything more. I was so incredibly touched, and he did such a wonderful job presenting the whole thing (which of course, made me even prouder). Needless to say it’s a moment I’ll never forget, and as much as I love awesome guitars, this meant so, so, so much more.

As I write this post (which is very late for a Friday post I might add), I’m with my wife and son  — for the past two days we’ve been visiting college campuses around the country (six flights in two days) and just having a ball. We’re about to head out for another campus tour, and I’m so excited for the adventures, learning, and fun my son will embark on next year. We’re a very close family, and he and I have always been very close, and it’s going to be really hard on me when he goes off to school in a different state, but no matter how old he and I get, I’ll never forget his words, or what it means to be his dad.

Here’s to all the dads out there, who know exactly what I mean, and how I feel. :)

Have a great weekend everybody!



  1. From this dad to you, warmest wishes and congratulations.
    The greatest gift a person (mom or dad) can give another person (son or daughter), is your time.

  2. Yep, I’m a Dad! My boys are young, 3 years old and 9 Months. I look at them everyday and am so proud! Michael, my 3 year old drew a pumpkin the other day… It amazed me! I was so proud!

    I know for a fact, that I am not ready for moments like yours yet. If I was almost in tears over a silly goofy eyed pumpkin, there is no way I’d be ready for that speech!

    You’ve really raised him well! Have any good Dad secrets you can share to make sure they turn out like him? :)

    Thanks for this, Scott! I know they grow quick, but I can’t wait to see them grow into men!

    1. Hey Blake. I remember so vividly when my son was like 2 or 3, and people would tell me, “Enjoy these times — it’s goes so fast, and before you know it, they’re grown” and now I just want to find one of those people and slap them and say, “You didn’t adequately express just how lightning-fast that times goes!” LOL!!

      1. I hear it all the time and I really think about it when people with older children tell me. It is one of those things though, no matter how hard you try to savor it, the time is still going to go by. It’s not fair!

  3. “…and when I needed someone to cover me when I was reloading, you were there.” Nothing quite as fun as gaming with the son. Congrats on the great honor my friend. I already knew you were a great dad but it is nice when you hear it from your kids.

  4. Those prideful father moments really hit home, don’t they, Scott? You will have many more in your life, I’m sure. One of my sons gave me a hand written Father’s Day card a couple of years ago, telling me how much of a great influence I had been to him. But that was a private thing. When I really knew what kind of man he had become was when he was asked to do the eulogy at my mother-in-law’s funeral. His words brought laughter, tears, and fond memories…all from the mind of a 20 year old. I could not have been prouder. Treasure these days, my friend!!


  5. That was beautiful Scott. Thank you for sharing your story. As a parent, grandparent and pediatrician, family and the respect and love that is earned and given to parents from their children comes directly from the respect given to them by their parents. I have been one of your NAPP students and follower for more than 11 years and you garner the same respect and love from those of us out here for your teaching, your enthusiasm and for your example as a husband and a father. Thank you again.

    1. Hi Marty — thank you so much for your very kind comment, and for your support these 11 years. Also, high-five on being a pediatrician — our family has been blessed with a great one these many years (a NAPP member himself). So much so, that my son, for most of his life, has wanted to be a pediatrician when he grows up. You have an awesome job, and awesome job as a dad and grandparent. :)

      1. Thanks Scott… If your son ever wants to know what it’s like to be a pediatrician and how much incredible joy it brings me, I’d be happy to talk with him. I wanted to to become a pediatrician because of how much I loved mine as a kid (I turned 70 this past year).

  6. I’m a son and that story hit home! Congrats Scott . . . on your values that you have the privilege to see looking back at in your eyes. Awesome! Peace my friend.

  7. Sent my three off to school over the past three years. Miss my boys.
    What a blessing. Nothing to fulfill the life like family.
    Oh! And congrats on that book thingy.
    Recommendation: take that engraved plate off the guitar, take a fantastic pic of you ripping it up, frame and put the plate on the pic, hang somewhere nice. That PRS deserves to be seen, all of it. 😀

  8. What an honor! It speaks volumes about the man that you are, outside of photography. Guitars are temporal, though wonderful. These words will resonate with you eternally! Aren’t you glad you sacrificed often to invest in your son? Time and him having children will only bring you closer; only then will he fully appreciate all that you have done for him.

  9. Awesome , Awesome post, Scott! And now you know what drove me to try to improve my photography skills and get the pictures I wanted of my son! This brought tears to my eyes , wished I could have been there to witness it! And congrats on the 10 years of helping people with your books! I am one of the lucky people who have actually met you and know what a wonderful person you really are! I will never forget our talk about our sons that day in Chicago! My son just graduated from UVA back in May and I remember well the journey you are going through with colleges, good luck to him with his search! Safe travels!

    1. Hey Alex — thanks so much for the kind words, and so cool to learn that your son just graduated. I know how proud you were of him when we last spoke, and I can only imagine how you must feel now. My best to you both :)

  10. My son passed away when he was 19 and I am glad I did my best when I could, this lovely story is a big lesson in dadmanship, not easy in this time starved world.

  11. Scott, Congratulations on being “The #1 Best Selling Book Author in Computers or Photography for 10 Consecutive Years.” There’s definitely a reason for that, you write great books! That Paul Reed Smith guitar is beautiful. I love the wood grain, nice inlays too. Sounds like a great moment in your life, really cool to see how humble you are, and how you manage a work life balance. Even with all of the awards, traveling, owning a company and still making time for your family. Truly inspiring man

  12. Scott, I was living in Atlanta many years ago. I remember you personally delivering the Mac Today magazine to the Atlanta Mac User’s user group. Congratulations on your incredible success. – Graham Hedrick

      1. He can always transfer to UF for grad school….thats whats important in the long run…..the best to him

  13. Family is the most important thing in the world. We meet a lot of people and a lot of them are fake.

    You are indeed always there when people need you being it family or your “adopted” family ;) so well deserved.

  14. How touching to have your son speak those words, expressing how much you have impacted his life. To let you know how proud he is of you, and how proud he is to be a man. Being a parent isn’t always an easy thing (especially when we have to see our children leave the nest), but you have done a great job raising your son to be a man, and instill in him the importance of family. Oh, and the guitar is nice…but the comments from your son — PRICELESS!!!!

  15. Congratulations, Scott. And kudos to your son’s awesome speech :-) What a great family you have, and I love your “Jesus” book. We’ve had a bit of family medical crisis in the last two weeks (almost lost my wife the early morning of Oct 25 due to respiratory failure but thank GOD, we got her back after 16 minutes of tireless work from the ER staff at Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody) so the value of family, magnified a million times during events like what just happened to us, can never be taken for granted. Hope to be able to attend a future Photoshop World again (am PSW2006 LV alumni).

  16. Nice thing to have said about you. But you are an extremely accomplished person. Intimidating even. There’s a white-hot fire under you that causes you to keep on keeping on making our world better day by day. I don’t know how you do as much as you do at the quality level you do it, but I appreciate and admire your work, effort, and life.

  17. Great post Scott! As a Dad we strive to show our love for our child. We strive to help educate, nurture and give them all that we can. It is so rewarding as a parent to get what you received, not the guitar but the absolute Love and assurance of a job well done of raising a caring loving compassionate man.

  18. The ‘busting at the seams’ portion of this was pretty evident. The guitar(notwithstanding) what a great moment for you Scott.. I guess it’s ‘that’ moment we all want to hear. To know that it’s been seen, recognized, and, really made a difference in our kids lives…

    It stuck as it were… Very happy for you. I hope you and your family have the best of health and happiness in the days ahead. And thanks for sharing this most important moment with all of us.

    It’s things like this…. that make you, you.

  19. My kid is only 3 (I’m just beginning the journey :) ). But I enjoy and cherish the time that we spend together. (It’s awesome).

    Your story is very touching and hits the heart. Thanks for sharing and more than anything, congrats on doing an awesome job.

    1. Thanks Pablo. And remember, the next time someone tells you “enjoy this time with this…it goes so fast” just know that they only say the word “fast” because there isn’t a single world that means “so much faster than you could ever imagine.” :)

  20. Scott, my admiration of you has always been there since I first met you. Reading this post increased it by 100 fold. I, too, am a father with 3 grown kids and I dropped the ball with them when they were young. I wasn’t always there for them and wish now that I was. With all you do for others and still have time for your family is amazing to me. I was nowhere near as busy as you must be, but never “made” time for mine.
    I know I can’t change the past but I can and do try to make a difference now as a parent and grandparent. You must be very very proud despite your humble way of doing things.
    See you next August in Vegas My friend!!

  21. Knowing you Scott… I’m NOT surprised!!! Reading this had me in tears too. I don’t have those kinds of memories and it makes me so happy to know that your family does!

  22. You just received your most prestigious honor, congratulations on ten years of putting your family first!
    Just one of the many reasons I’m honored to call you my friend! * Please tell me your son isn’t 17!!!!???

  23. That is an incredible story that so many Dad’s could learn from. If we had more Dad’s (and son’s) like that, our world would be a much better place.

  24. Scott, first congratulations on being a #1 Father!!! Second congratulations on being the #1 Best Selling Book Author in Computers or Photography for 10 consecutive years!!! Third congratulations to your son whom it appears has grown up to be just like his Father (and Mom).

    Man, you are awesome. You have been a source of inspiration to me for years on both a personal and professional level. I just don’t know how you manage to accomplish everything you do in just 24hrs a day. I often tell my wife, “I want to be Scott Kelby!”. I just hope I can achieve a tiny fraction of what you have accomplished as all as being surrounded by so many loving family and friends.

    Kalebra, You are also an incredible person and inspiration. Scott is always telling us about all the awesome things you do for you and the family. This celebration is just one more.

    I can remember photos of your son on the blog when he was just a young boy. Now 17 and soon off to college…. My youngest is a junior in college and soon my wife and I will be empty nesters. I miss my children dearly, but I’m also so proud to see them grow up into responsible, caring and successful adults and become my best friends. I know you will feel the same as your son makes his next life transition.

    All the best…….

  25. Over the years I have had many people ask me lots variations on the “What’s Scott really like?” question. Without exception I always told people that, no matter how crazy-busy you were, you always made time for family and in particular your kids’ activities. And how impressive and inspiring that has been to me. It’s no surprise that J has turned out the way he has.

  26. Great tribute to you and what you’ve done as a father. There is nothing you do in your life that is as satisfying as seeing your children (and grandchildren) turn out to be really good adults – no award can mean as much! [Not that it isn’t really special that you’ve won the book award, but I’m sure you know what I mean.] Congratulations, Scott, for knowing what’s really important in life!

  27. It is cool your son did this. You are a blessed man. The only other time I’ve experienced something like this was at my uncle Frank’s funeral. His three boys, my cousins, were all sitting with the family in the front of the small church. Each one grown with children of their own. Mid way through the service the oldest brother got up and slowly walked to the podium. He commenced to give a very emotional speach about his dad. He talked about how his dad bragged about all three of the boys, how he served others and how faithful he was to his wife, family and church. It was one of those speeches that made the crowd laugh and smile remembering just how my uncle Frank was — a great man who loved and was loved by many. But at the end of this list of wonderful attributes, he said something that topped them all. He said, in closing, that all he and his brothers ever wanted to be was “like their dad.” I then lost it right there and cried like a baby. It’s the best thing a son can say about their father. Again Scott, you are blessed. Have a great week.

  28. Awwwwww, that’s the most wonderful thing. It’s a reminder to us all that it’s not about stuff but about the precious moments we share with family. We just laid my mom to rest on Saturday and what I’d give for another moment with her … but we have to make the most of those moments with those we love who are still here.

  29. Hi Scott. I have a (slightly) unrelated question but it seems that I have a reasonably good chance of getting an answer from you here! I see in your new photo recipes book that your “go to” lens in many cases is the Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS II. I’ve had my eye on this lens for around 2 years now and am looking to purchase it in a few weeks (yes, I am very excited!) I would really appreciate some of your personal feedback about the lens especially that it seems to be one of your favorites. Thanks, as always!

  30. When we come to the end of our short reel here, and the Master Projectionist prepares to load our mobius loop of eternity, we will not look back and wish we’d had one more guitar, or regret the photo we had not captured, but a loving family can help us look back on a life well live and a heritage well planted. Well done, Scott; you’ve planted well.

  31. I have done a lot of jobs in my lifetime, but the only job that really mattered was raising my sons (with my wife). They are my gift to the next generation. And they both turned out to be incredible men. I tried to NEVER miss anything they did growing up. My oldest is a HS band director. At 57 years old, I still go to his concerts. I’m hoping I have done my job well in their minds.

  32. You are a rich man Scott Kelby! Success starts at home. You have loved and continue to love your family well. You engaged me many years ago when I read the forward to one of your books and was impressed with how you talked about Kalebra. I wanted to know who you are as a person more than what you know about photography or Lightroom. This continues to be why I love learning from you today. Thanks for sharing your journey!

Leave a Reply
Previous Post

It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

Next Post

Reaction to “50 Brides Reveal What Their Photographers Could Have Done Better”