The next episode in the SmugMug Films series focuses on sports photographer and photography education giant, Scott Kelby. Subscribe to the channel now to watch and see future installments as soon as we set them free.
Photographer, teacher, business owner, father: it’s impossible to define Scott Kelby as just one thing—or any combination of titles. His love for photography and bringing the best out of other photographers through teaching goes beyond labels. Between videos, tutorials, shooting, and spending valuable time with his family, he still found time for us to ask him how he does it, and where he started.
What did you do before you became a photographer?
I was a full-time graphic designer. My wife and I had a small design firm that specialized in creating ads and collateral material for ad agencies that were too small to have their own in-house art departments.
If you could give yourself advice when you were just starting out in photography, what would it be?
Don’t worry so much about the gear.
And what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
To listen to the advice of people you trust.
What skills did photography teach you that you’ve successfully applied to other areas of your life?
Be flexible and go with the flow. On a shoot, no matter how precisely you’ve planned things out, things don’t always go as planned, and it’s the exact same thing in business. Being able to change gears and go with the flow to create a successful outcome is something I definitely learned from photography.
Any favorite tools and tricks of the trade?
This year I’ve switched from Nikon to Canon, and I’m really enjoying it an awful lot. I’m a sports shooter, and the Canon EOS 1Dx was just born for sports. I’m honestly surprised I made the switch, but it feels like Canon made that 1Dx just for me.
My favorite lenses are their 70-200mm f/2.8 and their 300mm and 400mm f/2.8. I love my ThinkTank Photo camera bags, and I can’t live without my 15″ MacBook Pro, and my iPad air.
Lightroom has made my post-processing life so much easier, and of course Photoshop is a miracle of modern technology that I can’t live without.
My love affair with lighting continues; most of my gear is Elincrhom, but I’ve been trying out some Profoto stuff that is really cool, and I’m kind of a gear hound so I’m always trying out something new. I know, I know, it’s not about the gear, but it sure is fun to play with.
What was the “aha!” moment that led to you building the Kelby Media education empire?
I think it was realizing that there was no one centralized place for learning about Photoshop all year long. There was a book here, or a website there, but there was no real recognized resource that had it all, and had it in one place. So we set out to do that. It took years of hard work and worry, but eventually things started to fall into place for that dream to become a reality.
What was your biggest challenge to turning the Kelby Media idea into reality?
It was definitely funding. We started with $750. Not $750,000. $750. We were living paycheck to paycheck pretty much.
How much are you still involved with the day-to-day running of the Kelby empire, since it is so large and you’re just one man?
I am 100%, all day, every day, involved in it. Luckily, I have a lot of help (including two full-time assistants), and I’m surrounded by a lot of really great, really motivated, and very talented people. My wife Kalebra handles the business side of things, so I can concentrate on the education side, which makes things a lot easier for me. I still have to get involved in everything from marketing to product development, but thankfully she takes care of everything from HR to accounting to customer service and all the stuff I am so incredibly bad at—and she’s great at—so it works really well.
With so many projects, what’s your key to prioritizing?
Sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming and my wife knows exactly that “look” I get when that happens, and she will literally sit me down with a piece of paper and say, “OK, list everything you have to do ….” And then she’ll tell me exactly which order to do what, and ya know what? She’s always right. She’s kind of my secret weapon. Heck, she’s our company’s secret weapon.
Walk us through a typical day for you.
It usually starts with either meetings or a video shoot. I wind up shooting a lot of videos—everything from reviews to features to business proposals via video to online classes, promos, you name it. Some days that’s all I do all day long. But more often than not, my days are filled with meetings, just like today was, but at 4:00 p.m. I leave because we’re taping an online class on location.
There are also days where we have shoots planned to support my live tour, or a book project, or for marketing, or for one of the 100 things they tell me they need images for. Last week I did location shoots, stills, and video, all day Monday and Tuesday, and then Wednesday I’m back in the office for meetings, and then we broadcast a live show every Wednesday. It’s really never the same routine every day, but two constants are meetings and videos—and hopefully a shoot thrown in there.
We’re astounded by all the things you’ve done and how upbeat and positive you always are. Where do you get all that energy?
I’m a really happy person in general, always have been. I’ve led a very blessed life with an amazing wife, two wonderful children, a job I absolutely love, and I’m surrounded by some of the coolest people I’ve ever met who are pretty positive people themselves, because we’re REALLY careful to hire only the very best—from talent to passion to character. When you’re surrounded by that every day, it’s hard not to be psyched and even harder to wipe the smile off your face.
What do you believe has been key to your successful marketing strategy?
I believe the most important thing we do is let our passion for what we do flow over onto our customers. We love teaching. Our customers can see it in us. They can feel it. They know we’re trying to do something really great for them. They know we’re creating the type of education we want ourselves, and I think they know we use it ourselves—we use our own product. They know we’re for real.
We never set out for that to be our marketing strategy, but it became it because we lived it, and it turned our customers into a giant force of evangelists. We feel very blessed indeed that it happened. I wish I could take credit for it somehow, but it just happened.
You’ve also taken an extremely social approach to your work. Have you gotten new ideas from all this interaction with the photographic community, or have there been any surprises as a result of this ongoing interaction?
I think one of the greatest things that social media has brought to me, besides being able to reach out to an audience, is hearing what they want next. Hearing directly, and unsolicited, exactly where they’re struggling: what they need help with, why they’re stuck, and so on helps me plan what we need to deliver next educationally. And not only what’s next, but how they want it delivered.
This goes beyond social media—it’s why I still teach 24 or so live seminars each year—you have to get there and talk to people one on one to find out where their pulse is really at, what is turning them on, and what they’ve either already conquered or which mountain they need to climb next. Standing in front of 500 photographers and seeing their facial expressions in real time as you teach live on stage is priceless. Nothing replaces that instant, genuine feedback.
If there were similar open collaboration between competitors in today’s photography industry, what cool products/services would you like to see come about that would be impossible without such collaboration between competitors?
I would love to see what a partnership between a big camera company and Apple would bring. I think you see what happens when someone outside photography “rethinks” building a camera. The first thing I think you’d see? The end of f-stops.
You still find time to shoot, too. How? And what’s your favorite thing to shoot when you do?
I really have to make time to shoot. Right now, my favorite thing to shoot is NFL football, and luckily that’s mostly on Sundays and only for around four months. I shoot for a sports news wire service and cover all the home games of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and when they’re on the road, I often wind up shooting with the Atlanta Falcons or Tennessee Titans if I can. I love shooting most sports, everything from motorsports to NBA to major league baseball to NHL hockey.
Kalebra also has a very busy career, so how do you balance having a family and both being so busy?
Luckily, it’s one of the biggest advantages of running your own business. Because of that, my wife and I are able to juggle our schedule to be at every one of the kid’s events at school, including their sporting events and parent–teacher conferences. I’m at every daddy-and-daughter dance, and I clear my schedule for anything that conflicts because our kids, and our time together, is so important to us. We drive and pick up the kids every day from schools; we plan lots of fun, family vacations all year long, and we have well-worn annual passes to Disney World (our favorite quick family getaway).
This all leads to a lot of tricky travel schedules and a lot of red-eye flights so I can be home with the family. If I’m shooting an NFL game on the road, it’s not unusual for me to take an early flight, shoot the 1:00 p.m. game, and then fly home right after the game so I’m home that night with the kids. It’s not exactly “relaxing,” but it’s worth it!
What other things do you do for fun?
I love to travel. The whole family loves it (we started the kids traveling early), so we love to see the world. We also have family travel traditions, like going to Maine each summer to the same little cottages, and our holiday weekend trips to Disney. Those mean a lot to us.
Are you reading anything interesting these days?
Just finishing up a great book on social media by Gary Vanderchuck called Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. Really great stuff.
Who are your heroes?
My dad is definitely one. He was truly a prince of a man, and an amazing father with a twinkle in his eye like Santa. I have photography heroes like Joe McNally, and my wife would have to certainly be one of my heroes because of the amazing mother she is to our children, while juggling a bunch of plates in the air.
Could you describe a specific event or moment that stands out to you from your career?
I’ve been a football fan for as long as I can remember, and I will never forget walking out of the tunnel at Soldier Field in Chicago before kickoff the day I was shooting my first NFL game. It was a pretty overwhelming thing emotionally as it had been a dream of mine for many years.
Another was when the back door of the small transport plane I was in opened after landing on the deck of a U.S. naval carrier and an FA-18 Hornet taxied right past us just a few feet away. When I stepped onto that deck, it was overwhelming in an entirely different way, but it was a very powerful moment.
Another moment just happened when my son was competing in a nationwide crew-rowing event. For the first time ever he was rowing a single (his own one-man sculling boat rather than an 8-man or 4-man boat), and I was up on a large bridge over the river, not far from the end of the race course. I was shooting with a 400mm lens, and I spotted him and started firing. I was trying to track him as he rowed, and at one point he was just in front of the bridge and I was cheering him on, yelling encouragement down to him, with tears literally streaming down my face, just like they are right now as I write this.
I shot a lot of pro sports but nothing ever hit me like that did. I was literally bursting with pride. Those shots—those really mattered.
In the last year we’ve put out a lot of posts on this blog: product announcements, tutorials on taking better photos, tips to make more moolah and articles on how to get the most out of SmugMug.
So in case you weren’t glued to every moment we typed here, we’re sharing one last chance to catch your top 5 favorite articles that you may not have seen:
1) 5 Lies Your Camera Likes to Tell
2) How to Make a Photo Blog
3) The Save Photo Reminder
4) 5 Killer Locations for Your Portrait Sessions
5) Guide Your Guests to the Gold
Why confuse your site visitors? We picked some of the best examples of beautiful, easy-to-navigate sites on SmugMug and show you just why they work so well. Read more >>
And since we’re talking about recaps, it only makes sense to share the “top” five of the more subtle articles that deserve a second round in the spotlight! Here they are:
1) How to Succeed in the Business of Love
2) Why Events Are Best for Your Business
If you’re a pro with a Business account, Events are our #1 favorite tool that you probably don’t know about. Here’s why they work, what your customer will see, and some tried-and-true suggestions for integrating them into your portrait and wedding workflow. Read more >>
3) 5 Things Your Client Needs to Hear
Are your subjects happy? Confused? Confident in your ability to get the shot? Here are our pros’ top tips on what to tell your models so that you have a successful photo shoot… and they have a great time, too. Read more >>
4) How to Make your Visitors Feel at Home
Having a great website is more than just throwing some photos up on the web. Here are our suggestions for creating a helpful, pleasant experience for the people who browse your site. Clients, too! Read more >>
5) How to Organize a Photo Walk
Our photo-fiend-friend Scott Jarvie is known for his ability to rally local photographers to get up and get out shooting! If you’d like to take action and inspire your photo-neighbors to go snapping with you, here’s a few planning tips to get you on your way. Read more >>
We hope you have a safe, warm, happy and thoroughly joyous holiday!
Attention, Lightroom lovers! Today we have a great post by one of our friends, Matt Kloskowski, full-time Education Director for Kelby Media Group and a Tampa-based photographer. He’s the Editor of Lightroom Magazine, author of several best-selling Photoshop books and teaches Photoshop, Lightroom and photography seminars around the world. So we’re flattered that he hand-picked a few favorite ways for Lightroom-armed Smuggers like you to get their photos finished faster. After all, we’d rather be outdoors shooting in the sunshine than stuck at our desks. Wouldn’t you?
If you’re a pro photographer thinking about joining the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) and continuing your photo education, they’re offering a free 24-hour trial membership now. Try it out!
Hey everyone, Matt Kloskowski here with some tips on speeding up your Lightroom workflow. We’ve all heard the phrase “time is money.” Well, if you’re shooting weddings or events, you need to get through your photos and get them organized as fast as possible. Then you can get on to the good stuff of editing and getting out there to shoot more photos. So to help out, I’ve compiled 5 of my favorite tips to kickstart your workflow and keep you moving through Lightroom as quickly as possible.
Tip #1. Use Flags Instead of Stars
A big part of speeding up your workflow is identifying your favorite photos in some way. That way you can do something with them. Well, if you look under the photo menu you’ll see Lightroom has 3 ways of picking out your favorites. First there’s Set Flag. next, there’s Set Rating and finally there’s Set Color Label.
Here’s my thoughts. Ratings and Color Labels are really difficult to work with. Most people are familiar with the 1-5 star rating system but the main drawback is that it has too many choices. 5 stars is a keeper right? 4 stars probably means the photo is pretty good. 3 means it’s decent. 2 would be bad. and 1 star would be a reject that you throw away. Well what happens as you go through your photos and you come across something that isn’t a throw away or isn’t an absolute favorite keeper? You sit there and debate with yourself whether it’s a 2,3 or 4 star photo. Either way, it’s not your favorite so you’ll probably never do anything with it. But yet, you’re giving it too much time in the rating process. And inevitably, when something takes too long, we stop doing it.
So try this. Instead of using ratings, use the flagging system. This way, you get two choices:
- Flagged means you like it.
- Reject means you don’t and you want to delete it.
Go through your photos quickly and hit “P” to flag or “X” to reject. If you don’t flag it or reject it, then it stays unflagged which is that gray area that you’re just not sure about. But you don’t have to press a key to be indecisive – Lightroom just assumes you’re indecisive about the photo by leaving it unflagged. So your job becomes really easy! Flag it if you like it and think there’s a remote chance you’ll do something with it again one day. Reject it if you don’t. Then hit the right arrow key and move on.
Tip #2. Delete the Bad Stuff (and an easy way to do it)
Another way to speed things up is to keep your library as clean as possible and get rid of the bad stuff. If you followed the previous step and are using the Flag system, you should have some rejects that were marked with an X. A really simple way to delete them is to go up to the Photo menu and choose “Delete Rejected Photos.” Lightroom will delete all the rejects all at once so you don’t have to go back and get rid of them later.
Tip: When you try to delete a photo Lightroom will ask you if you want to delete it from the hard drive or just from the Lightroom library. Personally, I want me rejects gone forever so I delete them from the hard drive rather than just removing them from Lightroom.
Tip #3. Use Collections
Using Collections in Lightroom is more important than ever and probably one of the fastest and best ways for you to speed up your workflow. Photos that go into a collection are the photos that should be one click away and the photos that you’ll want to see most often.
To put it simply, think of a Collection as a photo album. Let’s say you have 2000 images from a wedding. You want to quickly show them to the bride/groom or family. Do you go through and show them all 2000 photos? No way. Instead, you’d create an album. Well that’s what a collection is. It’s a way for you to get to your favorite photos in just one click no matter where you are in Lightroom because the Collections panel is everywhere.
Typically, I’ll look at my photos in the Folders panel and go through them one by one. I’ll hit the letter P (for Pick) to flag photos as a favorite when I come across them. Then I can quickly sort to just see my picks by clicking the little flagged icon in the Filter strip just above the filmstrip:
Once I’ve figured out what my favorites are I select them all (Edit > Select All), go to the Collections panel and create a new Collection with a descriptive name (usually the last name of the bride/groom). Now, no matter what I do in the Folders panel and no matter what folder I’m looking at, I have a one-click way to get to my favorite photos from that event.
Tip #4. Use Collection Sets
Collections have an extra level of organization called Collection Sets that are key for events like weddings. Think of a Collection Set as a group of nested folders. If you put your picks from a wedding/event into a Collection, you’d have all the best photos from all parts of the wedding in one place (the Collection you created). The problem is that this Collection could be huge, so this is where Collection Sets come in.
You’d create a Collection Set (example: the top level folder with the bride/groom name) and then create Collections within the set for each part of the wedding (example: formals, church, reception, etc…). Here’s what a Collection Set could look like in Lightroom:
Tip #5. Use Smart Collections for the Long View
Collections are also smart: They can organize themselves automatically as you import photos into Lightroom. One example of this could be a Smart Collection to help organize your portfolio photos. These are photos that help get you new business as you update your website, so you’ll want to keep them close, easy to get to, and – most importantly – easily updated.
For example, anytime you edit a show-worthy image, put the word “portfolio” in the image title or give it a certain color flag or label. Because Lightroom’s Smart Collections are “smart”, you can set up a rule to detect that this photo meets certain criteria and have it placed directly into a “Portfolio” collection for you.
The best part about it is that once you set up your Smart Collection, Lightroom automatically does the rest.
Bonus Smug Tip: Get Them Uploaded Safely
Once your photos are all cleaned up and ready to go, you’re just a few clicks away from uploading them safely into your SmugMug website. The publish plugin is free, gets your photos seamlessly into SmugMug, and also lets you sync, make galleries and keep your online presence as clean and organized as your Lightroom library. You can also see and adjust your customer’s Event Favorites, republish, and even proof your orders all right within the SmugMug Publish module. Get it now!
What Lightroom tricks have shaved seconds off of your photo editing workflow? We’d love to know!
By popular demand, we’re launching a brand-new series of webinars to give you LIVE opportunity to learn step-by-step instructions on how to get the most out of your SmugMug site.
Why Should I Go?
You get info from our real SmugMug folks. Our email replies are fast, but this is even better.
Safe zone: Don’t be afraid to ask the most basic questions. We were all beginners once.
Experienced, expert how-to’s and we’ll show you to new ways to use features you already have.
They’ll happen regularly. Miss a session? That’s OK. Join us next time.
What, Where, How?
We’re offering two types of SmugMug webinars so there’s something for everyone:
1) SmugMug 101: The first Tuesday of every month. Perfect for newbies looking to get up to speed with their brand-new SmugMug website.
2) SmugMug Feature Spotlight: The third Tuesday of every month. We’ll spend one hour talking in-depth about a specific SmugMug feature.
All webinars are hosted by SmugMug’s very own Rocky Bowles and Seán Rogan. Together they bring almost 15 years as SmugMug users and Pro Gurus. They’ve been there, done that, and earned their hoodies.
We’ll block out extra time for Q&A, so come prepared with your questions!
Smug Tips, Photo Tips, Business Tips
We’ll be adding to our webinar schedule as we settle subjects, speakers and dates, so bookmark our Events Calendar and check it often.
Our next Feature Spotlight takes place on April 16th, 2013 at 8:30 PM Eastern Time. We’ll discuss SEO and Branding, how it works, and how to make it work for you.
We’ve got all kinds of educational webinars planned for the future, too, and it’s not all about SmugMug. Here’s what’s coming upon the horizon, and you can click the links to register for each event.
- April 12, 2013 – 7:00 PM BST — UK and Europe! PhotoTraining4U & SmugMug
- April 16, 2013 – 8:30 PM EDT — SmugMug Feature Spotlight – SEO & Branding
- April 25, 2013 – 8:00 PM EDT — SEO with Jason Grubb
- May 7, 2013 – 8:00 PM EDT — SmugMug 101
Do you have a specific topic or feature you want to discuss? Tell us! We’re here for you.
At SmugMug, you get the keys to your own photographic kingdom. But sometimes it takes more than just a camera and an internet connection to set your dreams free.
Where do you go next?
SmugMug Help: Your Hub to All Things Photo
Our fabulous customer support team is comprised of living and breathing photographers with kids that grow up too fast, gear wish lists and weekend photo shoots to juggle. In short, they’re just like you.
They know that it’s tough to learn a brand-new website, so we’ve put our heads together on what you’d like most: One simple link to click for everything you need to know.
Meet the new, expanded Help Center. We’ve stripped down a previously-cluttered page to just an inviting search bar to type in your most burning questions, a Getting Started video (and one to introduce ourselves… we don’t bite!) and a few important links.
And as always, email and live chat are still available in case you can’t find the answers on your own.
All You Need to Succeed
If you’re thinking about getting paid for your photos and turning a hobby into a business, our new Business Resource Center is just what you need. Browse and read articles from seasoned SmugMug pros about how to plan, build and maintain a successful photo business and how to make more money.
We are always eager to hear what you think and how we can help you better. If there’s a topic you’re dying to see, tell us about it in the comments below! This is just the beginning and we’re hoping to learn right along with you.
Aiming for more light bulb moments per second,
The SmugMug Family
Have you heard about our friends over at Two Bright Lights? They’re the company that wants to see photographers like you get published in magazines and make your resume grow. They’re like your own personal publicity agent, getting your photos right onto the editor’s desk. All you do is gather a few images and they’ll do all the heavy lifting for you.
If you’ve ever wanted to see your images across the spread but didn’t know how to get started, Two Bright Lights is perfect for you.
Who, What and When
You’ll get expert info about the wedding and publishing business from Shalyn Hockey, VP of Marketing and Strategy of Two Bright Lights, Jillian Clark of 100 Layer Cake and Summer Watkins of Grey Likes Weddings.
We’ll cover everything you’ll need to know to navigate the publishing industry, like:
- What NOT to do when submitting photos.
- What types of photos editors really want to see.
- Why being published is so important for your photography business.
- How SmugMug gets you in front of the right editors in just three clicks.
Ready to make your business boom? Just RSVP here and we’ll save you a seat.
See you there!
Missed the broadcast? Watch it anytime right here on YouTube.
We recently shared the news that we’ve got another great album option, so why not spice up the photos you’re putting in them? If you love giving your images lush, digital embellishments, we’ve got an opportunity that’s perfect for you.
Learn to Turn Photos Into Art
Adobe’s new Creative Design Tour is the next great educational series on our list. It’s 5 fully-packed hours of hands-on experience with Photoshop pro Judy Host. She’ll show you how to use all the tools in your Photoshop toolbox to create gorgeous (and sellable) digital portraits like these:
Click here to see the what you’ll need to bring and what you’ll learn. Here’s a taste:
- How to prepare your images using clipping masks.
- How to use backgrounds, vector art, graphic borders, brushes, overlays and more.
- You’ll create five digital images together as a class.
- You’ll finish by building your own completely unique creative design, using one of your own photos.
Learn New Tricks with a Special Discount
Grab your tickets now and use the special SmugMug code CDTSMUG to save $30. Regular ticket prices are $129, you get them for $99.
Here’s the full schedule for all 28 cities. Find the one nearest you!
- 7/22/2012 Atlanta, GA
- 7/23/2012 Raleigh. NC
- 7/24/2012 Ft. Lauderdale, FL
- 7/25/2012 Dallas, TX
- 7/26/2012 Houston, TX
- 7/29/2012 Phoenix, AZ
- 7/30/2012 San Diego, CA
- 7/31/2012 Ontario, CA
- 8/01/2012 Los Alamitos, CA
- 8/05/2012 San Jose, CA
- 8/06/2012 Sacramento, CA
- 8/07/2012 Portland, OR
- 8/08/2012 Seattle, WA
- 8/09/2012 Denver, CO
- 8/12/2012 Minneapolis, MN
- 8/13/2012 Milwaukee, WI
- 8/14/2012 Chicago, IL
- 8/15/2012 Detroit, MI
- 8/16/2012 Cincinnati, OH
- 8/19/2012 Secaucus, NJ
- 8/20/2012 Long Island, NY
- 8/21/2012 Philadelphia, PA
- 8/22/2012 Baltimore, MD
- 8/23/2012 Washington, DC
- 8/26/2012 Boston, MA
- 8/27/2012 Toronto, ON
- 9/04/2012 Las Vegas, NV
Never stop learning… and creating beautiful things that blow your fans away. See you there!