Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Book was one of the first books that I read as an aspiring photographer, and was definitely one of the best. Originally published in 2006, over the years it has been updated and revised as well have new books added to the series. As of the time of writing, there are 5 volumes available, each continuing where the previous book left off.
The idea behind the books is to explain concepts easily, without too much technical jargon. This excerpt from Scott sums it up best.
“If you and I were out on a shoot and you asked me, ‘Hey Scott, I want the light for this portrait to look really soft and flattering. How far back should I put this softbox?’ I wouldn’t give you a lecture about lighting ratios, or flash modifiers. In real life, I’d just turn to you and say, ‘Move it in as close to your subject as you possibly can, without it actually showing up in the shot.’ Well, that’s what this book is all about: you and I out shooting where I answer questions, give you advice, and share the secrets I’ve learned, just like I would with a friend–without all the technical explanations and techie photo speak.”
The story set as if you and Scott are two friends out on a shoot. The books are broken down into several chapters, each focusing on a certain type of photography, i.e. weddings, sports, landscapes, portraits, etc. Each page within the chapters presents a particular tip or technique, conveying it a simple, straight forward manner. It mostly avoids getting too technical, rather it simply focuses on what you need to do or what settings you need to change to achieve a certain kind of shot.
The books are filled with Scott’s light hearted humor and puns. This serves to lighten the mood of the book, helping to turn it into a fun read instead of a textbook. This is what makes Scott’s series stand out from the other photography books out there. It’s fun.
Some key things that I learned from the books –
- Holding the camera steady (Scott shared a technique about how to wrap the camera strap around your arm to achieve better stability.)
- Framing (Where to crop your portraits.)
- Perspective (Using a wide angle vs using a zoom to achieve very different effects)
Scott’s books are one of the best selling photography books in the world – and for good reason. If you’re a beginner just starting out in photography, these books will definitely help you learn what you need to know to capture better pictures. And if you’re a seasoned photographer, these books make a great read – and you might learn something new too.
At the end of each book Scott presents some of his photos and tells you exactly how he achieved that result. All of these and more, are compiled into volume 5 of The Digital Photography Book. So if you want to know more about how Scott shoots his subjects, and his exact thought process and workflow, book 5 is worth exploring.
The Digital Photography Books are available to purchase as physical copies or ebooks on Amazon.
Kelby, S. (2006). The digital photography book. volume 1: The step-by-step secrets for how to make your photos look like the pros’! Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press.
Kelby, S. (2008). The digital photography book: The step-by-step secrets for how to make your photos look like the pros! Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press.
Kelby, S. (2009). The digital photography book: The step-by-step secrets for how to make your photos look like the pros’! : Volume 3. Berkeley, Calif.: Peachpit Press.
Kelby, S. (2012). The digital photography book, part 4: The step-by-step secrets for how to make your photos look like the pros’! Berkeley, CA: Peachpit.