Wouldn't it be great if more people became better amateur photographers? And wouldn't it be great if we too could greatly improve our own skill-level and knowledge about photography to produce photos that we could be proud of? There are no shortcuts to excellence in any field, including photography, but wouldn't it be cool if one of the world's bestselling authors of photography books wrote a book full of tips that made you feel like you were hanging out with him one afternoon on a shoot getting tip after practical tip that you could actually use immediately without the jargon and theory (but with plenty of jokes to go with the killer advice)? That's exactly what Scott Kelby did in his bestselling book The Digital Photography Book: The step-by-step secrets for how to make your photos look like the pros. Except Scott did not just produce one such book, he produced two. And I have them both. (The Digital Photography Book Vol 2 was published last month.) Even if you are a pro you may enjoy these books, but if you are a complete newbie or an amateur photographer with ambition to become a remarkable photographer, then these two books are two you will want to checkout.
These two books are not the last word by any means, but they will make a huge difference for anyone who wants to get better. The lessons I learned in these two books not only helped me take better photographs, they also made me better able to assess good images from the not-so-good ones when selecting photos for purchase (from stock, microstock, etc.). There's some technical stuff in there, but mostly you learn how to take better images like the pros. You don't need to have an SLR camera to learn from these books, but these books are especially good for people who currently have — or hope someday soon to have — a professional grade camera. I do not have a digital SLR yet but am planning now to invest in the equipment after reading Scott's books. It will be worth it.
SK: For maximum impact, look for simplicity
I had a sense about this drawn from intuition and based on my own design experience, but it was reassuring to read Scott's ideas about photography and simplicity. Concerning city shots, for example, Scott says that clutter and distraction are the things that most often kill properly exposed shots. Here's a clip from page 171 of The Digital Photography Book.
"...one of the big secrets to creating powerful and dramatic urban and travel shots is to strive for simplicity. Look for simplicity in your backgrounds, in your people shots, in your architectural elements, in every aspect—the simpler the surroundings, the more powerful the impact...Look for the absence of of distraction. Look for the absence of clutter and noise, watch for distracting elements that sneak into the top and sides of your frame, and create some photos that have great impact—not because of what they have, but because of what they don't have—lots of junk."
Scott Thinks it's Hot
Besides writing over 30 books on photography and Photoshop, Scott appears regularly on Photoshop User TV. Scott also keeps a really cool blog, the Adobe Photoshop Insider. And since I am a fan of Scott's work (I've learned almost all my Photoshop skills over the years from Scott), I was very happy when Presentation Zen was selected for the first "Scott Thinks it's Hot Award." I have never met Scott but I can tell he's a great guy and he's certainly helped a lot of people over the years tell their stories through photography and other visuals. Take some time to checkout his blog, videos, and books. A lot of great stuff in there.
Here's another one
The Moment It Clicks: Photography secrets from one of the world's top shooters is also outstanding. This book too makes you feel like you're just hanging out with one of world's best photographers (Joe McNally) and he's dropping one great insightful tip after another. This book is a real pleasure to read and scan. This book is a great complement to Scott Kelby's work.
• Scott's gear
• Scott Kelby's portfolio
• Joe McNally's portfolio