Our Favorite Tips from Scott Kelby’s “Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It, LIVE” Seminar

This month, FIDMDigitalArts.com was excited to attend Scott Kelby’s “Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It, LIVE!” seminar at the Los Angeles Convention Center. We expected nothing but the best from Kelby, who is a world-renowned photographer and Photoshop guru, the editor and publisher of Photoshop User Magazine, president of NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) and founder of Kelby Training.

He did not disappoint! We learned some great tips from Kelby as he demonstrated, from start to finish, his photo shoot lighting setup process, his camera techniques with live models, and his Photoshop retouching methods. He almost made it look too easy.

Check out some photos below from the seminar, captured by photographer Alan Hess… and read our favorite tips below.

Scott Kelby's Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It LIVE seminar, in LA, photographed by Alan Hess.Scott Kelby's Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It LIVE seminar, in LA, photographed by Alan Hess.Scott Kelby's Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It LIVE seminar, in LA, photographed by Alan Hess. (Photographs by Alan Hess)

As a graduate of FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising’s Graphic Design/Branding program, I am familiar with digital photography and Photoshop photo retouching methods, but it never hurts to learn new techniques from an expert. The Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It LIVE seminar was broken down into five sections to cover various photography scenarios: headshots, dramatic lighting, edgy/high contrast, fashion/glamour and compositing (which means editing your subject into a different background using Photoshop).

Below were some of my favorite tips from the seminar. To illustrate some of the techniques, I’ve included some of Kelby’s photography from his portfolio website here.

Software tip: First of all, Kelby is a huge Lightroom fanatic! I honestly had no idea how much Lightroom has to offer. Watch videos posted about this topic from Kelby here: http://www.photoshopuser.com/lightroom

My favorite quote from the seminar, “If you want to make something look interesting, only light part of it.” Kelby demonstrated how  to create a dramatic look to your photographs using a large softbox set up to light only a section of your model’s face and a second strip bank light positioned at a 45-degree angle behind the model’s opposite shoulder. Check out this example:

Scott Kelby fashion photo

General rule of thumb: use gold reflectors outside, silver reflectors inside.

Equipment tip: Kelby uses a special fan that rests on a tripod made by Blow It Fans to achieve that wind-blown appearance for your models’ hair.

For the edgy/high-contrast lighting demonstration, Kelby captured an image of a boxer standing against faux boxing-ring ropes. The finished product was amazing! It looked similar to the sports photograph by Kelby, below. He achieved this look by using a beauty dish (light) placed above the model’s head, facing almost straight down. Two reflectors were placed behind the model off the right and left shoulders facing the model.

Scott Kelby using dramatic lighting in sports photo.

Outdoor shooting tip: “The secret is to make the sky look two stops darker.” Kelby suggested shooting late in the day, and then adjusting the exposure to make your subject a silhouette. Then, add your lighting/flash for a dramatic appearance, like in the image shown below:


Parting Notes: Kelby ended the seminar by posing the question, “Why do we retouch photos of people to begin with?” It was an interesting way to end the day and I enjoyed his explanation too– that we retouch photos to help your audience see your subject the way you would in real life. Somehow photos always capture the flaws that you would never notice in everyday life so retouching helps you remember subjects the way you would in your mind. I interpreted this message as a reminder– don’t overdo the retouching! No one wants to see grandma without any wrinkles!

Free downloads: Check out some cool videos that include Kelby’s tips at this link: http://kelbytraining.com/live/light-it-tour.

For more details, you’ll have to attend one of the Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it LIVE seminars, which are being presented in cities across the nation. Check out details here.

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Questions/comments? Email the editor,   O’Brien at mo’brien@fidm.edu.

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Author: Mani O'Brien

Mani O’Brien is the Online Editor for the FIDMDigitalArts Blog and the Social Media Marketing Manager for FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in print journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communications at Arizona State University in 2006, and Associate of Arts degree in Graphic Design (Professional Designation) at FIDM in 2010. When she’s not brainstorming social media marketing ideas or writing about the graphic design and digital media, she enjoys practicing yoga, reading magazines, and hanging out with friends and family in Los Angeles.

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