Review: Kelby Training

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A couple of weeks ago, I finally subscribed to Kelby Training. I say “finally” because I have been mulling over the purchase of this subscription, and an accompanying subscription to NAPP, for quite some time. Everyone I consulted with about these memberships responded with the same advice: “Do it. You won’t regret it.” So, since I found myself with a bit of time on my hands during the holidays, I decided the time was right. I signed up for a subscription package, wherein I receive 14 months of NAPP membership for $99.00 (two bonus months for signing up for auto-renewal), and a one year subscription to Kelby Training for $179.00 (December 2010 prices).

Once my account was activated, I immediately logged into Kelby Training and started perusing the catalog of courses. Now, you’re probably aware that Scott Kelby, Kelby Media, and NAPP are the first, middle, and last names in all things Photoshop. What I find exciting about Kelby Training is that it covers a whole gambit of photography-related instruction, and isn’t just limited to Photoshop itself. Courses are categorized by topic and include “Photography” (the largest category), “Photoshop”, “Lightroom”, “Video”, “Flash”, “Aperture”, and several more. I clicked on the “Photography” category and was met with a list of over a hundred courses. Still trying to feel my way around the site, I looked for a “search” function and was pretty much stumped. It wasn’t until I clicked on “watch now” next to one of the courses that I discovered a keyword search box. It seems to me that a search box should be quickly apparent on either the “Home” or “Courses” page, but for some reason it is not.

Rest assured, though, that is the ONLY problem (if you can call it that) that I have come across thus far. Three full courses in, I am well and truly hooked on this training and can’t recommend it highly enough.

What’s nice about Kelby Training is that you can “try it before you buy it”. The first lesson of every single training course on the site is offered for free, and you can view as many of them as you would like. “Part one” is usually an introduction or overview and that is, of course, the hook that they hope will encourage the purchase of a subscription. Most courses, when viewed in their entirety, are over an hour long (some shorter, some significantly longer) and are comprised of individual lessons that are each typically under fifteen minutes long. Subscribers have the ability to “favorite” individual lessons within courses.

Courses are taught by a variety of regular and guest instructors, and are filmed either in-studio or on-location. Most of the courses are conversational in nature, but still follow a clear outline which is accompanied by visual aids (such as “before” and “after” shots, or on-screen demonstrations within the pertinent software) and occasional supplementary downloads.

The first course that I watched in its entirety (nearly two hours), and the one that convinced me that I made the right choice in subscribing, was “A Day with Jay Maisel”. In this course, Scott Kelby accompanies Jay Maisel on a walking tour of the streets of New York City. Maisel (whose biography can be found here) is a veritable treasure-trove of knowledge and photography anecdotes, and possesses an encyclopedic catalog of quotes and stories ready to be offered up as the situation warrants. I watched with delight as Kelby and Maisel interacted with the folks they met along their stroll, talking non-stop and pausing to take photos of people and landmarks. I marveled at the sheer amount of skill that Maisel demonstrated – a feeling I was apparently not alone in. I was rather amused at how humble Scott Kelby became in the face of Maisel’s talents (though Kelby seems to be a pretty humble guy in general). You know, it was rather reassuring to watch. As I mentioned in my previous post, Beating the Intimidation Factor, we tend to compare ourselves to the photographers we admire, and sometimes feel less significant in that comparison. That Kelby, someone I personally admire, can feel that way with regards to one of his peers, just served to remind me that we’re all in the same boat.

The second course that I veritably consumed was “10 Essential Studio Techniques Every Photographer Needs to Know”. In this course (which is a little over two hours long), Scott Kelby teaches about the fundamentals of studio lighting. In his own studio, he demonstrates his ability to create incredible portraits with just the use of a couple of lights and a working knowledge of how lighting effects the outcome of the photograph. I found myself pausing the video a lot, in order to switch over to my open OneNote document to take notes. And of course, in order to add to my already extensive wish lists on Amazon and B&H. I now have complete confidence that I can set up an in-home studio for less money than I thought it was going to require, and I will be able to wield the lighting equipment with something approaching skill right away.

I’m now happily plugging through the third course, “Yellowstone Big Game Photography”, taught on location by Moose Peterson. I was in Yellowstone back in 2008, and OH how I wish I’d had this training under my belt back then! Once I’ve finished the course I’m sure I’ll hop right on a travel website to book my next trip, this time armed with the knowledge that will allow me to even more successfully photograph the wildlife around Yellowstone.

I am really, truly enjoying the instruction that I am receiving through Kelby Training. It is, of course, much more fun to learn about the subjects that we have an enthusiasm for, but thus far the courses I’ve experienced have been entertaining as well as instructional. With new content being added every week (such as the forthcoming “A Day with Jay Maisel Part 2″, and a rumored Canon 7D instructional course), I’m certain that when my one year subscription nears its end, I’m going to sign up for another year.

If you’re looking for professionally produced, effective, and accessible training to supplement your photography skills, I highly recommend Kelby Training!

Photo credit: Tiffany Joyce.

*The Author did not receive any products or compensation in exchange for mentioning the Provider’s products and/or services on this website. The Author purchased this product for personal use with personal funds. We will only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our expertise, are worthy of such endorsement. This is not an advertisement.

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