Interview with Scott Kelby

Scott Kelby wears a lot of hats as a photographer. He’s known as “The Photoshop Guy” because of his vast knowledge of the program, but he’s also a freelance sports photographer, author, and teacher. We asked him to answer a few questions for our readers.

Scott Kelby, freelance sports photographer and business owner
Scott Kelby, freelance sports photographer and business owner

How did you get into photography?

My brother got me into it. He went off to Europe and came back with these amazing pictures and I thought, ‘I want to do that.’ I took it up as a hobby and like so many photographers I just learned things as I went along.


As a sports photographer, what’s the best game or event that you’ve been a part of? Why?

It’s hard to pick just one game. I’m a big football fan, so some games are fun just because I’m a fan; others are fun because I get to capture the action.

If I had to pick one though, I’d say the best game that I was a part of was the NFC Championship game between the Bears and Packers. I was excited because if the Bears won, I had a pretty good chance of going to the Super Bowl.

While at the game, Aaron Rodgers dove into the end zone and wound up knocking me off my feet and snapping my monopole in half. Thankfully, I wasn’t hurt and I jumped back on my feet and nabbed a few shots of him while we was close.

One of the shots Kelby took during his most memorable game.
One of the shots Kelby took during his most memorable game.

Of course, the Bears lost and I didn’t get a chance to go to the Super Bowl, but it was still an exciting game and getting knocked down by Rodgers just added to the frenzy.

You have a great picture on your website of a Jaguars player surrounded by smoke. How did that picture come about?

Jaguars player comes out of the tunnel.
Jaguars player comes out of the tunnel.

Some of the most dramatic shots that I’ve taken in football have actually happened before the game starts. This particular shot was taken while I was on the 50-yard line. The players were coming out of the tunnel and there was smoke billowing around them. If you’ve ever shot in smoke, you know how hard it is to lock focus, but I got lucky. I saw the player, got my focus, and captured this shot that shows his emotion.

There’s another great photo on your site of a dirt biker. Tell us the story behind that picture.

: An action shot Kelby captured for a book.
: An action shot Kelby captured for a book.

A lot of sports photography comes from being in the right place at the right time, but this shot was planned. I wanted to get some motocross shots for a book I was working on, so I rented a track and paid some riders to do a few stunts. This is one of my favorites from that day.

You’ve written several books, one in particular “The Digital Photography Book” is very popular. What is it about writing and teaching that you enjoy?

Back in the day I was a writer and so writing came naturally to me. I wanted to help people learn this craft and writing a book seemed like a logical way to do it. Of course, I didn’t know at the time that I would write as many books as I have, but I’ve really enjoyed writing.

You’ve become known as “The Photoshop Guy.” How did that nickname come about?

A long time ago, before podcasts were popular, me and two other guys were doing these shows as a way to explain what could be done in Photoshop. To give ourselves a catchy title, we went with “The Photoshop Guys” and it just stuck. Years later we still do a podcast about Photoshop.

Is there a photo that you’ve taken that you consider your most memorable shot?

Yes, I took a shot at my first Florida State college game that really made me consider sports photography. Of course, the shot really isn’t that great when I look at it now, but I still love the picture because when I look at it I think, ‘That’s where it all started.’

The shot that inspired Kelby to give photography a shot as a career.
The shot that inspired Kelby to give photography a shot as a career.

Did you know when you took that shot that your career would turn into the success that it is today?

I had no idea. I just wanted to take good photos. At the end of the day, that’s all I want to do still. If you told me that my business, KelbyOne, would have 84 employees in 2014, I would have laughed. But it all happened. I’ve got a great team of people working with me, I love teaching classes, writing books, and chasing down that killer shot.

Check out Kelby’s work on his website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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