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The Digital Photography Book, Volume 2 by Scott Kelby

Published by Peachpit Press

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

A photography tip is a short instruction on how to do something in photography — “put the softbox as close as possible to the subject for the softest light” — without trying to put the instruction into any larger context.

This is a short book of photography tips that contains tips on using flash, studio photography, portraits, landscapes, weddings, travel, macro, and what should probably be called miscellany. There is a final section in which Kelby shows particular pictures and indicates his considerations in taking them. Each tip is less then a small page in length and includes an illustrative photograph.

Kelby is a Photoshop guru turned photography guru, and his images while nice, certainly are not inspiring. Be warned: many people are put off by his sophomoric sense of humor, which he displays throughout the book (e.g., the Committee for Creation of Complex Sounding Studio Gear Names).

I dislike tip books because they don’t put photography technique within a larger context so that the reader learns a principle which he can apply to any circumstance. “Give a man a fish….” might have been written about tip books. For example, in the space of a few pages, the author tells us to shoot portraits with wide angle lenses and then tells us to use telephoto lenses. What might be called a comprehensive book would help us to understand the considerations involved in making a choice of focal length for portraits.

Most of the tips that Kelby provides are really quite basic, and will be familiar to anyone who has spent any time at all learning techniques. (I acknowledge there is some value in being reminded about a small technique, although one could be reminded as well by reading a more comprehensive book.) Some of the tips are repeated, like telling us to keep shooting after sunset, or to buy a fast normal lens to shoot in dim places where you can’t use flash. Some of the tips are even contradictory, as when he tells the reader not to cut off the chin in a close-up portrait and then does just that later on. I particularly resented a so-called tip to buy a book that Kelby just happens to have edited and which I found to be interesting but not essential reading.

On the other hand, this is a book that you can pick up, read for a few minutes, and then put down. If you feel that’s an essential quality for an instruction book, this certainly fills the bill.

This post sponsored by Lensbabies.

Join the conversation! 67 Comments

  1. Nice, clear, informative review. It may be worth giving it a final score (out of 10 for instance) to give it more of a review format.

  2. Nice, clear, informative review. It may be worth giving it a final score (out of 10 for instance) to give it more of a review format.

  3. To be fair to Scott Kelby, he states at the beginning of this (and the preceding) book that these are supposed to be quick and dirty tips and not an in depth look at techniques. He tells you to go out and get a different book if you are looking for deep meaningful content. This book is just about the quick tip. I’ve lent Kelby’s books to some of my “new to dslr” friends who found some improvement in their photos right away from these tips. I agree that if you want to dig deeper in to the context of why one method is better than another, this is not the book.

    Over all I’d give both of Kelby’s books an 8 out of 10 for what they are.

  4. To be fair to Scott Kelby, he states at the beginning of this (and the preceding) book that these are supposed to be quick and dirty tips and not an in depth look at techniques. He tells you to go out and get a different book if you are looking for deep meaningful content. This book is just about the quick tip. I’ve lent Kelby’s books to some of my “new to dslr” friends who found some improvement in their photos right away from these tips. I agree that if you want to dig deeper in to the context of why one method is better than another, this is not the book.

    Over all I’d give both of Kelby’s books an 8 out of 10 for what they are.

  5. man no love for the Kelly crew… Um I think that this review is unfair. I mean he states in the intro to this book that this is not a comprehensive book. Most people aren’t like us/me thats so passionate about photography that they would ( hypothetically of course) download every episode of this podcast and listen to it round the clock while at work(hypothetically). Most people are too lazy to read a book and just want little nuggets of info. This book caters to them. A good springboard for any budding photo enthusiast. Personally the first book is really what rocketed my obsession with photography at least enough to drop a couple grand on it.

    In the end I think it comes down to the old adage “know your audience”… I think mr Kelby is well aware of his target audience and filled a perceived need in the beginner/enthusiast audience. Definitely not for the serious photographer!!

    I guess mr conrad’s job is to do book reviews and bad ones are always more interesting than good ones… Personally I liked volume two a lot but volume one is still my favorite… There must be a reason why these two books are some of the highest selling photography books on amazon.com???personally I give the set a 9 out of 10!!!!

    Regards
    ted

  6. man no love for the Kelly crew… Um I think that this review is unfair. I mean he states in the intro to this book that this is not a comprehensive book. Most people aren’t like us/me thats so passionate about photography that they would ( hypothetically of course) download every episode of this podcast and listen to it round the clock while at work(hypothetically). Most people are too lazy to read a book and just want little nuggets of info. This book caters to them. A good springboard for any budding photo enthusiast. Personally the first book is really what rocketed my obsession with photography at least enough to drop a couple grand on it.

    In the end I think it comes down to the old adage “know your audience”… I think mr Kelby is well aware of his target audience and filled a perceived need in the beginner/enthusiast audience. Definitely not for the serious photographer!!

    I guess mr conrad’s job is to do book reviews and bad ones are always more interesting than good ones… Personally I liked volume two a lot but volume one is still my favorite… There must be a reason why these two books are some of the highest selling photography books on amazon.com???personally I give the set a 9 out of 10!!!!

    Regards
    ted

  7. Dang it!!! Stupid iPhone keeps on substituting “Kelly” for “kelby”!! Sry folks… Oh and on a side note… Is this critique what Mr bourne would consider a “snarky” remark???? Hahaha never heard that word before but its catching on in my daily vocabulary!!! Haha

  8. This is a fair review of the book. Beginners and intermedia photographers will appreciate Kelby’s distillation of information in one convenient package that can be read in bite-sized pieces and in any order desired. This book (and its companion volume) isn’t intended to be comprehensive or a complete guide to photography, and Kelby doesn’t bill it that way. This is by design a book of tips, not a book of extended photographic instruction on any topic.

    As Conrad notes, some of the tips contradict each other: “Shoot portraits wide and move in close” (citing Joe McNally as the source) and “use a telephoto lens for portraits” to compress perspective and give a more flattering look to a model’s features. Don’t expect an explanation of when to use one top over the other–something Kelby’s editors might have caught–but my sense is that Kelby succeeded in writing the book that he intended to write: A series of clear tips applied to common shooting circumstances, written in a conversational tone.

  9. This is a fair review of the book. Beginners and intermedia photographers will appreciate Kelby’s distillation of information in one convenient package that can be read in bite-sized pieces and in any order desired. This book (and its companion volume) isn’t intended to be comprehensive or a complete guide to photography, and Kelby doesn’t bill it that way. This is by design a book of tips, not a book of extended photographic instruction on any topic.

    As Conrad notes, some of the tips contradict each other: “Shoot portraits wide and move in close” (citing Joe McNally as the source) and “use a telephoto lens for portraits” to compress perspective and give a more flattering look to a model’s features. Don’t expect an explanation of when to use one top over the other–something Kelby’s editors might have caught–but my sense is that Kelby succeeded in writing the book that he intended to write: A series of clear tips applied to common shooting circumstances, written in a conversational tone.

  10. I have to go with the majority here. I like Scott Kelby’s books very much and recommend them to all my friends just beginning to experience the joys of photography. While I think the reviewer’s criticisms are fair, I think he is writing for advanced amateurs and not the rest of us. After reading Mr. Kelby’s books (both volumes), I was able to pinpoint where I needed more in-depth knowledge and proceed from there. In summary, I think these are great books for beginning photographers.

  11. I have to go with the majority here. I like Scott Kelby’s books very much and recommend them to all my friends just beginning to experience the joys of photography. While I think the reviewer’s criticisms are fair, I think he is writing for advanced amateurs and not the rest of us. After reading Mr. Kelby’s books (both volumes), I was able to pinpoint where I needed more in-depth knowledge and proceed from there. In summary, I think these are great books for beginning photographers.

  12. Well, speaking as a serious amateur, I have both volumes of this Book and love them both. Kelby speaks in plain language, explains complex concepts in a way I can understand and put to use immediately. He is funny, so if you have no sense of humor, you might not chuckle as I did. I say go to Barnes and Nobles, open the book, read a few pages to get a feel for it, then buy it — ’cause you will end up really liking it! I give it an unqualified 10 out of 10.

  13. Well, speaking as a serious amateur, I have both volumes of this Book and love them both. Kelby speaks in plain language, explains complex concepts in a way I can understand and put to use immediately. He is funny, so if you have no sense of humor, you might not chuckle as I did. I say go to Barnes and Nobles, open the book, read a few pages to get a feel for it, then buy it — ’cause you will end up really liking it! I give it an unqualified 10 out of 10.

  14. Wow – Scott Kelby is well-known for his Photoshop and teaching skills, so to hear a less than glowing review of his writing is unusual. As others have said, the review should consider the target audience and not the audience that the reviewer belongs to. Having said that, I did find it interesting that there does seem to be a transference of teaching Photoshop to teaching photography in volume 2.

    The first book of Scott’s I read was a Photoshop book and I found that quite instructive. The Digital Photography Book (volume 1) I read through the local library, and while funny and instructive to a degree, it’s not one I would have bought, because, as others indicated it was pretty basic. Volume 2, by his own admission, is simply a continuation of that, so I have no real interest in it.

    I would agree with the underlying theme that Scott’s real forte is Photoshop, and when he has tips, tricks and techniques to share in that regard, I am all ears. When it’s photography, I’ll listen, but also take what is said with a grain of salt (i.e. through the library or quick glances in book stores).

  15. Wow – Scott Kelby is well-known for his Photoshop and teaching skills, so to hear a less than glowing review of his writing is unusual. As others have said, the review should consider the target audience and not the audience that the reviewer belongs to. Having said that, I did find it interesting that there does seem to be a transference of teaching Photoshop to teaching photography in volume 2.

    The first book of Scott’s I read was a Photoshop book and I found that quite instructive. The Digital Photography Book (volume 1) I read through the local library, and while funny and instructive to a degree, it’s not one I would have bought, because, as others indicated it was pretty basic. Volume 2, by his own admission, is simply a continuation of that, so I have no real interest in it.

    I would agree with the underlying theme that Scott’s real forte is Photoshop, and when he has tips, tricks and techniques to share in that regard, I am all ears. When it’s photography, I’ll listen, but also take what is said with a grain of salt (i.e. through the library or quick glances in book stores).

  16. I have both volumes of this book and love them both. Very practical tips on specific situations. Learned quite a bit from both. Would highly recommend them to anyone who is not an established professional with years of shooting. Wish I had bought these when they came out and not discovered them later. As with everything you learn the most shooting but this offers a good starting point for a number of situations.

  17. I have both volumes of this book and love them both. Very practical tips on specific situations. Learned quite a bit from both. Would highly recommend them to anyone who is not an established professional with years of shooting. Wish I had bought these when they came out and not discovered them later. As with everything you learn the most shooting but this offers a good starting point for a number of situations.

  18. This is very interesting to me. Conrad has rarely gotten such a reaction to one of his reviews. Of course he has never reviewed a book by an author with so many outright fanboys.

    I’ve skimmed through this book and agree with Conrad’s review.

    Kelby is a great Photoshop teacher. He’s a so-so photographer. And people need to evaluate this book based on what he provides in the way of data not what his reputation is.

    I’d still buy the book – but I guess anything less than a glowing review is in dangerous territory where he is concerned. Scott is good; just remember that he isn’t perfect.

  19. I do strongly disagree with the assertions and tone of this review. The book delivers exactly what Scott promises. His books have helped renew my enthusiasm for photography. I have hundreds of photography books and none is perfect but Scott always delivers what he promises. Mr. Obregon certainly hasn’t written anything I intend to keep, including this review.
    Buy Scott’s books. You won’t be disappointed.

  20. I do strongly disagree with the assertions and tone of this review. The book delivers exactly what Scott promises. His books have helped renew my enthusiasm for photography. I have hundreds of photography books and none is perfect but Scott always delivers what he promises. Mr. Obregon certainly hasn’t written anything I intend to keep, including this review.
    Buy Scott’s books. You won’t be disappointed.

  21. In all honesty, it seems this review faults the book for not being what the reviewer wanted it to be, instead of evaluating whether or not the book accomplished it’s intended goal. Thus, it was unhelpful to me. Not “does it speak to veteran photographers about their craft?”, but “does it help lame newbies like me shoot better pictures faster?” That was the question I wanted answered. I have Vol. 1. Do I really need Vol. 2?
    As an example. I used to teach guitar. I NEVER started a teenage student off with Scales and Theory. I taught them a simple song, that would remind them that guitar was actually fun when all the scales and theory made them want to put the thing in the closet for good. Knowing your theory is essential to your musicianship. But if you aren’t having fun, who cares about memorizing modes? The application is, if you start shooting better pictures and having fun, and getting good feedback from your friends, then you will start to care about the hows and whys of light.
    Also, I think that I’ll continue to hold on to the decision making when it comes to what I will and won’t find impressive or inspiring when I look at an image. Again, I’m not sure this helped me decide if this book was worth my money. I suppose I’ll just have to go flip through it myself.
    I guess that makes me a fanboy, whatever that really means.

  22. In all honesty, it seems this review faults the book for not being what the reviewer wanted it to be, instead of evaluating whether or not the book accomplished it’s intended goal. Thus, it was unhelpful to me. Not “does it speak to veteran photographers about their craft?”, but “does it help lame newbies like me shoot better pictures faster?” That was the question I wanted answered. I have Vol. 1. Do I really need Vol. 2?
    As an example. I used to teach guitar. I NEVER started a teenage student off with Scales and Theory. I taught them a simple song, that would remind them that guitar was actually fun when all the scales and theory made them want to put the thing in the closet for good. Knowing your theory is essential to your musicianship. But if you aren’t having fun, who cares about memorizing modes? The application is, if you start shooting better pictures and having fun, and getting good feedback from your friends, then you will start to care about the hows and whys of light.
    Also, I think that I’ll continue to hold on to the decision making when it comes to what I will and won’t find impressive or inspiring when I look at an image. Again, I’m not sure this helped me decide if this book was worth my money. I suppose I’ll just have to go flip through it myself.
    I guess that makes me a fanboy, whatever that really means.

  23. Conrad offers several salient points to consider…

    Kelby is more a Photoshop teacher than photographer. This calls into question his ability to teach photography. Kelby has a sense of humor that some may fine annoying. Some of the tips in the book are repeated and some are even contradictory.

    None of which is in any way connected with Kelby’s promises.

  24. Conrad offers several salient points to consider…

    Kelby is more a Photoshop teacher than photographer. This calls into question his ability to teach photography. Kelby has a sense of humor that some may fine annoying. Some of the tips in the book are repeated and some are even contradictory.

    None of which is in any way connected with Kelby’s promises.

  25. Hi,
    wow, an unexpectedly furious storm….. I like the Kelby books a lot as a way into a complex area. His humour is “oddball” as you yanks would say in your quaint way :-), but that’s hardly a surprise in a Kelby book. As for the contradictions, I think that just reflects the fact that photography is more art than science. Usually it ‘s good to use a longer lens for portraits, but sometimes a wider angle makes an image stand out.

    William

  26. Hi,
    wow, an unexpectedly furious storm….. I like the Kelby books a lot as a way into a complex area. His humour is “oddball” as you yanks would say in your quaint way :-), but that’s hardly a surprise in a Kelby book. As for the contradictions, I think that just reflects the fact that photography is more art than science. Usually it ‘s good to use a longer lens for portraits, but sometimes a wider angle makes an image stand out.

    William

  27. Scott:

    Why does Kelby have so many fanboys and, in my case, fangirls? Because he is the very best at what he does: writing instructional books on photography and photoshop.

    To denigrate his photography is downright “snarky.”

  28. Landya there’s nothing snarky about sharing an objective opinion about Kelby’s photography. I’ve made a living taking and selling photographs. Scott’s made a living writing about it. You even say “he is the very best at what he does: writing instructional books on photography and photoshop.” Notice you didn’t say he’s a great photographer.

    Snarky would be to attack him personally.

    Your response is an excellent example of the “fanpersondom” surrounding him. I said I’d buy the book and that he’s a great Photoshop teacher (not the kind of praise reserved for those who are about to be snarked) but that wasn’t good enough for you. Apparently only abject, 100% adoration would be good enough. Sorry – I can’t manufacture that for you.

    Hey – congrats to Kelby for creating these kinds of fans. He deserves his success if he can garner this much loyalty – even if it isn’t always based on facts.

  29. Landya there’s nothing snarky about sharing an objective opinion about Kelby’s photography. I’ve made a living taking and selling photographs. Scott’s made a living writing about it. You even say “he is the very best at what he does: writing instructional books on photography and photoshop.” Notice you didn’t say he’s a great photographer.

    Snarky would be to attack him personally.

    Your response is an excellent example of the “fanpersondom” surrounding him. I said I’d buy the book and that he’s a great Photoshop teacher (not the kind of praise reserved for those who are about to be snarked) but that wasn’t good enough for you. Apparently only abject, 100% adoration would be good enough. Sorry – I can’t manufacture that for you.

    Hey – congrats to Kelby for creating these kinds of fans. He deserves his success if he can garner this much loyalty – even if it isn’t always based on facts.

  30. Scott,
    I personally find the “fanboy” appellation snarky and offensive. I like Scott’s books (as well as those by Vincent Versace and Joe McNally) but don’t consider him or his work perfect. Your reviewer and you seem to have something personal against Scott which makes your review questionable. I don’t care what your personal/professional issues with Scott are but they made the reviews worthless for someone looking for objectivity. As for Scott not being a great photogrpaher, well, it isn’t that up to the beholder? Maybe many would say you are great at talking about photography but your pictures aren’t outstanding. That does not diminish the information you share. To require an author to be a great photographer would empty the bookshelves at most stores. And, frankly, most great photographers are lousy writers.
    Negative reviews are fine, but they should be fact-based and this one was “snarky” whether you are willing to acknowledge that or not.

  31. Martin if I were a Kelby fanboy like you I’d be offended at being labeled as such. As for snarky, well what can I say – it’s my blog and I get to decided what’s snarky and what’s not snarky here. And offering my professional opinion is not being snarky.

    As for your allegation that we have something against Kelby you’re WAY off base. Neither my reviewer nor I have anything against Kelby. I think he’s a nice guy. If I had something against him I wouldn’t let the review go up at all. What proof do you have of that defaming statement?

    Perhaps you missed the line where I said I’d buy the book and he’s a great Photoshop teacher? Man you have the Kelby syndrome bad brother. Get help!

    And as for your statements about the photography – well let me ask you this…would you want to fly on a plane where the pilot was skilled at flying or skilled at talking about it?

    You can take shots at me or my photography if it makes you feel better – or if that’s the best you can do to try to advance your extremely weak argument – but if you take Kelby’s books out of the equation – my photos have outsold his 10,000 to one.

    I say AGAIN for those of you with Kelby blinders on – I’ll buy the book and he’s a great Photoshop teacher.

    I need to hire Kelby’s PR agent!

  32. Martin if I were a Kelby fanboy like you I’d be offended at being labeled as such. As for snarky, well what can I say – it’s my blog and I get to decided what’s snarky and what’s not snarky here. And offering my professional opinion is not being snarky.

    As for your allegation that we have something against Kelby you’re WAY off base. Neither my reviewer nor I have anything against Kelby. I think he’s a nice guy. If I had something against him I wouldn’t let the review go up at all. What proof do you have of that defaming statement?

    Perhaps you missed the line where I said I’d buy the book and he’s a great Photoshop teacher? Man you have the Kelby syndrome bad brother. Get help!

    And as for your statements about the photography – well let me ask you this…would you want to fly on a plane where the pilot was skilled at flying or skilled at talking about it?

    You can take shots at me or my photography if it makes you feel better – or if that’s the best you can do to try to advance your extremely weak argument – but if you take Kelby’s books out of the equation – my photos have outsold his 10,000 to one.

    I say AGAIN for those of you with Kelby blinders on – I’ll buy the book and he’s a great Photoshop teacher.

    I need to hire Kelby’s PR agent!

  33. What it boils down to is this review is Conrad’s review. The purpose of this is to get the reviewer’s opinion on a subject. Take it or leave it. If you don’t agree, fine. Scott Kelby doesn’t need anyone sticking up for him. He’s a grown man. He’s a great photoshop teacher and he’s a better photographer than me, as is everyone at TWIP. I’ll continue to learn from Scott, TWIP, and anyone else that can teach me. Thanks for reading…

  34. What it boils down to is this review is Conrad’s review. The purpose of this is to get the reviewer’s opinion on a subject. Take it or leave it. If you don’t agree, fine. Scott Kelby doesn’t need anyone sticking up for him. He’s a grown man. He’s a great photoshop teacher and he’s a better photographer than me, as is everyone at TWIP. I’ll continue to learn from Scott, TWIP, and anyone else that can teach me. Thanks for reading…

  35. Scott,
    I intended no shots at your photography; I think your pictures are fantastic. My point was that even if some people don’t like them, your information is still useful. I stand corrected if I interpreted your opinions as biased based on dislike of Scott.
    As for the pilot, I agree. But remember that David Leadbetter and Butch Harmon aren’t very good golfers but they do know how to teach. You don’t have to be a great photograpther to be a great photography teacher.
    I am not sure what the “Kelby syndrome” is but if it means I enjoy his books, I am glad to have it. I suppose I also suffer from the “TWIP syndrome”, too.
    For what it’s worth, I think the podcasts and Flickr site are great. Thanks for the hard work.
    mh

  36. Scott,
    I intended no shots at your photography; I think your pictures are fantastic. My point was that even if some people don’t like them, your information is still useful. I stand corrected if I interpreted your opinions as biased based on dislike of Scott.
    As for the pilot, I agree. But remember that David Leadbetter and Butch Harmon aren’t very good golfers but they do know how to teach. You don’t have to be a great photograpther to be a great photography teacher.
    I am not sure what the “Kelby syndrome” is but if it means I enjoy his books, I am glad to have it. I suppose I also suffer from the “TWIP syndrome”, too.
    For what it’s worth, I think the podcasts and Flickr site are great. Thanks for the hard work.
    mh

  37. I’m really pleased to see so many comments about my review from people who have read the book. Reviewers need feedback to improve their reviews and they don’t usually get it.

    Like all of my reviews, this one was aimed at giving readers enough information about a book to decide whether or not they wanted to invest their time and money in it. I try to follow a process of description, interpretation and judgment, although often the distinction may not be clear. My main objection to this book was pedagogical. I do not believe that tips are the best say to learn photography. I thoughy I made that point with “give a man a fish…” but perhaps I needed to complete the saying: “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Give him a fishing rod and you feed him for life.” Or perhaps I needed some other way to approach this issue. This belief about the best way to teach reflects my prejudices but I believe they are well founded in this regard.

    It’s not that tip books can’t be good. Scott (Bourne) is presently holding a review of a recent book of tips by Rick Sammon. This is a much better book then Kelby’s but still not as good as a comprehensive book.

    The only comment which I saw that some might take as snarky was my reference to Kelby’s humor as sophomoric, although I believe the description is objectively accurate. When Kelby’s book on Lightroom came out, the featured review on Amazon for several weeks was based on his humor rather then the content, and it engendered fierce battles. I personally don’t mind Kelby’s humor but it became obvious to me that there were many people who do, and I therefore consider it important to note it.

    I hope readers will feel as free to comment on any other review that I offer, because I certainly can learn from the comments.

  38. Ok, NOW I understand what a fan boys is. And Mr. Bourne is right. There are a few here. MY point was, the reveiw didn’t help me decide on the book. I don’t necessarily think Kelby is a world class photographer (who am I to say, he’s much better than me). I do, however, know he has intimate access to some people who are, like Joe McNally, who was championed on this podcast, and Moose Peterson. And he has good advice in his first book for beginners like me who want to stop taking snaps and take actual photos.

    Mr. Bourne, I ask you please do not sink to the level of “it’s my ball and I’ll play how I want.” You have a great forum of talented, engaged consumers looking in, and Educated and talented presenters. You don’t need to slug it out with the trolls. You silence on this issue might have been deafening, but we won’t know.
    I do take exception, however, to one of your comments as a matter of polite discussion. Don’t you think if you are going to take sales as a meter of talent, you open up some really crappy stuff to be regarded as great. The sales of New Kids on the Block has eclipsed a group like Return to Forever. There is a good chance that Brittney Spears has out sold Mahalia Jackson and Etta James combined. But are these even really a talent contest?

    Thomas Kincaid has out sold any other painter, by an order of magnitude (unless you maybe count impressionist tableware as a whole) but is he not “The Painter of Lite”?

    Of course I cannot count you among the High Sellers, I’ve mentioned. I merely mean to point out sales is lousy yardstick for measuring talent. And if you want to use it a a measure of “success” then you cannot exclude his books, as you have written some too.

    I just pray none of you have to endure having your work proudly displayed next to a gold-plated Venus dripping oil down fishing wire.

  39. Ok, NOW I understand what a fan boys is. And Mr. Bourne is right. There are a few here. MY point was, the reveiw didn’t help me decide on the book. I don’t necessarily think Kelby is a world class photographer (who am I to say, he’s much better than me). I do, however, know he has intimate access to some people who are, like Joe McNally, who was championed on this podcast, and Moose Peterson. And he has good advice in his first book for beginners like me who want to stop taking snaps and take actual photos.

    Mr. Bourne, I ask you please do not sink to the level of “it’s my ball and I’ll play how I want.” You have a great forum of talented, engaged consumers looking in, and Educated and talented presenters. You don’t need to slug it out with the trolls. You silence on this issue might have been deafening, but we won’t know.
    I do take exception, however, to one of your comments as a matter of polite discussion. Don’t you think if you are going to take sales as a meter of talent, you open up some really crappy stuff to be regarded as great. The sales of New Kids on the Block has eclipsed a group like Return to Forever. There is a good chance that Brittney Spears has out sold Mahalia Jackson and Etta James combined. But are these even really a talent contest?

    Thomas Kincaid has out sold any other painter, by an order of magnitude (unless you maybe count impressionist tableware as a whole) but is he not “The Painter of Lite”?

    Of course I cannot count you among the High Sellers, I’ve mentioned. I merely mean to point out sales is lousy yardstick for measuring talent. And if you want to use it a a measure of “success” then you cannot exclude his books, as you have written some too.

    I just pray none of you have to endure having your work proudly displayed next to a gold-plated Venus dripping oil down fishing wire.

  40. I enjoyed Scott’s first book and ran out and purchased the second book the week it was released. I don’t find this to be a book that I read cover to cover, but as an amateur photographer I find this series as excellent reference material. If I have an upcoming photo shoot in a particular theme, I take a quick read-through in the corresponding chapter to see if there is something new I haven’t tried. I also find both books make great ‘bathroom readers’, which is always a great place to learn something new.

  41. I enjoyed Scott’s first book and ran out and purchased the second book the week it was released. I don’t find this to be a book that I read cover to cover, but as an amateur photographer I find this series as excellent reference material. If I have an upcoming photo shoot in a particular theme, I take a quick read-through in the corresponding chapter to see if there is something new I haven’t tried. I also find both books make great ‘bathroom readers’, which is always a great place to learn something new.

  42. @Brian you have mischaracterized what I said but I will take your clue, treat you like a troll, and won’t bother to address the rest of your comment.

  43. @Brian you have mischaracterized what I said but I will take your clue, treat you like a troll, and won’t bother to address the rest of your comment.

  44. woah woah book??? What’s a book???? If i cant get it on my iphone i’m not interested!!! Man I revise my statement, any review that can get this kind of backlash must be a great review… To each his/her own… the end everybody should read this book… U can do it in about an hour at barnes… If you like it, buy it!!!! (that’s what all reviews should say)

  45. woah woah book??? What’s a book???? If i cant get it on my iphone i’m not interested!!! Man I revise my statement, any review that can get this kind of backlash must be a great review… To each his/her own… the end everybody should read this book… U can do it in about an hour at barnes… If you like it, buy it!!!! (that’s what all reviews should say)

  46. Damn, it’s getting hot in here!! Not to change the subject but I just bought Tom Ang’s Digital Photography Master Class. Does anyone have any thoughts about that book?
    All I want to do is take better pictures, not incite people to riot.

  47. oh and one more generational point of reference or FYI.. At least in my experience… When fanboy is used in current pop movie, anime, or manga its generally used as an insult ( see full metal panic series)… Now as I understand it, if u call yourself a fanboy its okay because you’re owning up to it, but used at someone else = insult. Kinda like when I call my fellow Asians (or myself) a oriental racial slur is ok but if an outsider used it to us = insult. Now granted… That’s the Japanese that are using it in this way but I think the word is used very similarly here… (btw on a funny side note the word in Japanese for fanboy is….. Fanboy)

  48. oh and one more generational point of reference or FYI.. At least in my experience… When fanboy is used in current pop movie, anime, or manga its generally used as an insult ( see full metal panic series)… Now as I understand it, if u call yourself a fanboy its okay because you’re owning up to it, but used at someone else = insult. Kinda like when I call my fellow Asians (or myself) a oriental racial slur is ok but if an outsider used it to us = insult. Now granted… That’s the Japanese that are using it in this way but I think the word is used very similarly here… (btw on a funny side note the word in Japanese for fanboy is….. Fanboy)

  49. I’ve known Scott Bourne all his life. He’s a good guy and a fair guy. But to expect him to go to all the trouble of running this blog, and then telling him he should keep his opinions to himself is silly. And if I know Scott – it won’t happen. He’s never let anyone push him around in his lifetime and I cannot imagine him starting now.

    Like Scott, I’m getting old and maybe guys our age will never get it. But our generation was taught that debate, sharing opinions and standing up for yourself are all good things. Afterwards, we get a drink and enjoy our friendship.

    As for this review – Like Scott, I’ll buy the book – but I will do so only because it’s inexpensive and Conrad’s review gave me enough information to know that as a beginner, I can use all the help I can get.

  50. I’ve known Scott Bourne all his life. He’s a good guy and a fair guy. But to expect him to go to all the trouble of running this blog, and then telling him he should keep his opinions to himself is silly. And if I know Scott – it won’t happen. He’s never let anyone push him around in his lifetime and I cannot imagine him starting now.

    Like Scott, I’m getting old and maybe guys our age will never get it. But our generation was taught that debate, sharing opinions and standing up for yourself are all good things. Afterwards, we get a drink and enjoy our friendship.

    As for this review – Like Scott, I’ll buy the book – but I will do so only because it’s inexpensive and Conrad’s review gave me enough information to know that as a beginner, I can use all the help I can get.

  51. Conrad’s review is on target.

    As an beginner, I found the books (vols 1 and 2) very helpful for me if not essential. The memorable part of the book is (to paraphrase) what would Kelby tell you if you were standing next to him and shooting something. I’m convinced if I was standing next to Scott or someone else, the answer would be different, but similar. That conversational tone appeals to me.

    The review’s point about Kelby’s humor is on target, although I felt the term “sophomoric” to be a bit emotionally charged. Although I love the book, I find the humor irrelevant and tend to skip it. It is fair for Conrad to point this out. I’m glad I knew about the humor before I bought the book.

    From my perspective, I liked Kelby’s pictures. But since I am a novice, I probably don’t know any better. However, I find the arguments about the quality of Kelby’s photos pointless. I don’t expect the photos to be inspiring in an artistic sense. For me, they need to demonstrate the point being made. I’d expect the review to comment on how well the points are demonstrated. I think the review could have left off the “certainly are not inspiring.” That seems biased to me and elicits the very argument had in this forum.

    Finally, I like that Conrad listed his bias against tip books. It helped me as the reader to evaluate the amount of stock I should put in the review.

    The bottom line is that agree with the review of the book. And I would highly recommend the book to others in my position.

  52. Scott, could you give some more details as to why you think Mr. Kelby is not that good of a photographer (e.g. pick a few photos and comment on them)? I’d be curious to know as most photographers don’t usually make such statements (they’ll just say everyone is good :), plus it would be nice to see how you look at images.

    Thanks

  53. Scott, could you give some more details as to why you think Mr. Kelby is not that good of a photographer (e.g. pick a few photos and comment on them)? I’d be curious to know as most photographers don’t usually make such statements (they’ll just say everyone is good :), plus it would be nice to see how you look at images.

    Thanks

  54. SP this has become a distraction and a firestorm and that was not my intention so I’ll pass this time.

    I can tell you that when I judge images, I look for impact, pop, story telling, technical proficiency and whether or not the image appears to be competitive with other pictures selling in the actual marketplace.

  55. SP this has become a distraction and a firestorm and that was not my intention so I’ll pass this time.

    I can tell you that when I judge images, I look for impact, pop, story telling, technical proficiency and whether or not the image appears to be competitive with other pictures selling in the actual marketplace.

  56. I think all good photographers and podcasters deserve to be defended. Yes, I am a fangirl of Scott Bourne as well. http://is.gd/z6D

  57. I think all good photographers and podcasters deserve to be defended. Yes, I am a fangirl of Scott Bourne as well. http://is.gd/z6D

  58. Scott,
    Your last post is why I come to TWIP daily. How about a podcast on how pros like yourself “see” and take the pics that have “impact, pop,….etc”. That is what I really want to learn.
    Thanks,
    mh

  59. @Martin thanks – I will work on a post about how to see a salable image.

  60. @Martin thanks – I will work on a post about how to see a salable image.

  61. I have only been a photographer for 4 years. I own several of Kelby’s books. Are they perfect? No. But they do provide a foundation for those new to Photoshop and photography. Can I learn more by going to workshops and having personal instruction? Yes. Can I afford it in either time or money? Not right now. They wonderful about these sorts of books is that they give you enough to start with and then as you advance you can expand beyond them.

    Don’t forget, Kelby is doing something right, he’s sells an awful lot of books.

  62. I have only been a photographer for 4 years. I own several of Kelby’s books. Are they perfect? No. But they do provide a foundation for those new to Photoshop and photography. Can I learn more by going to workshops and having personal instruction? Yes. Can I afford it in either time or money? Not right now. They wonderful about these sorts of books is that they give you enough to start with and then as you advance you can expand beyond them.

    Don’t forget, Kelby is doing something right, he’s sells an awful lot of books.

  63. “Berkeley, CA—April 29, 2008—Peachpit today announced that Scott Kelby’s The Digital Photography Book has been recognized as the best-selling digital photography book ever by Nielsen Bookscan, with over 250,000 copies currently in print.”

    …Scoreboard!

    Would a Car & Driver fault a Chevy Malibu for not being a BMW Z4? Of course not. The target market for these cars are different. Me being new to photography, I found both vols 1 and 2 very helpful. I also have read Understanding Exposure, Before it Clicks, Rick Sammon’s Travel and Nature Photography, and a host of other books. I’ve learned something from them all. I find it hard to believe that there is nothing at all in this book that someone, anyone, could take away from The Digital Photography book and apply to make their photographs just a little bit better. Every book is different. Scott Kelby even tells the reader that he’s “…giving it to you in plain English, just like I would in person, to a friend.” Don’t fault the book for something it’s not is all I’m saying.

    On related note. While I do like to fish, sometimes I just wanna hit up the drive thru at Long John Silvers.

  64. “Berkeley, CA—April 29, 2008—Peachpit today announced that Scott Kelby’s The Digital Photography Book has been recognized as the best-selling digital photography book ever by Nielsen Bookscan, with over 250,000 copies currently in print.”

    …Scoreboard!

    Would a Car & Driver fault a Chevy Malibu for not being a BMW Z4? Of course not. The target market for these cars are different. Me being new to photography, I found both vols 1 and 2 very helpful. I also have read Understanding Exposure, Before it Clicks, Rick Sammon’s Travel and Nature Photography, and a host of other books. I’ve learned something from them all. I find it hard to believe that there is nothing at all in this book that someone, anyone, could take away from The Digital Photography book and apply to make their photographs just a little bit better. Every book is different. Scott Kelby even tells the reader that he’s “…giving it to you in plain English, just like I would in person, to a friend.” Don’t fault the book for something it’s not is all I’m saying.

    On related note. While I do like to fish, sometimes I just wanna hit up the drive thru at Long John Silvers.

  65. HAHA L.J.S … sometimes you just gotta go!! love the long johns!!

    ted from houston

  66. HAHA L.J.S … sometimes you just gotta go!! love the long johns!!

    ted from houston

  67. I am a newbie to the world of photography but have leaped in with both feet. I borrowed this book from a friend was was very pleased with Kelby’s rhetoric. As a beginner I am trying to absorb everything I can and I really enjoyed Kelby’s angle, a leisurely shoot with a buddy. That said, I am looking for literature that provides a little more depth. Any suggestions? I have 4 wk old twin daughers, so they will be my primary subject matter, but I also love to travel and will shoot a lot of scenery.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

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About scottbourne

Founder of Photofocus.com. Retired traveling and unhooking from the Internet.

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