Almost two months ago I joined the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) and slightly afterward, I joined Kelby Training. I am going to post my thoughts on NAPP membership as well, but I wanted to start with my thoughts on Kelby Training.

The site was founded by Scott Kelby and designed to provide computer based training in a similar way to many other CBT based, but Kelby caters specifically to photographers. While the site does contain training in a variety of areas (like video or WordPress) each defiantly is constructed with photographers as the core audience.

During the last two months, I believe I sat through something like 36+ courses (twelve by Joe McNally alone) totally something like 55+ hours of training.

I went into this enterprise mostly looking to learn more about three main topics; Lightroom, Photoshop CS5 (specifically portrait retouching) and Photographic Lighting. These goals aside, I ended up watching courses on DSLR sensor cleaning, WordPress, Senior Portrait Props and a variety of other topics.

What is Good

The instructors are fantastic. There is a adage in the education world, those that can’t do…teach. This is defiantly not the case at Kelby Training. They are constantly commenting how their instructors are some of the best in the world and in many cases, this is certainly true. I got a true sense that many, if not all of the people leading the classes were working photographers and retouchers rather than professional teachers. This speaks volumes to the credibility of these individuals and the quality of instruction one finds at Kelby Training.

The video quality is pretty good. Videos are presented in Flash and are relatively good quality. As one would expect the newest videos seem to be higher resolution than older classes. I was blowing up everything via my Mac Mini on a 50″ big screen and while they did look like streaming video at this size, they were very watchable.

What is Less Than Good

The ability to watch on my iPhone or iPad might be a nice addition. I am often places that I could, while waiting hop on the site via iPhone and watch a single lesson, but alas, the videos are currently encoding in flash format…thus, no iPhone. Surely there is some way to take this training mobile. An app perhaps!

The Interface, well…the interface sucks. Navigation sometimes difficult with classes organized by topic and instructor, but in the first month getting to classes by instructor simply didn’t work. They seemed to have this fixed by month two, but the interface is clunky at best. My account kept timing out despite watching from the same device and telling the interface to “Remember Me”.

It was difficult to know where I had been and what I had watched, especially given the volume of classes I consumed in such a short time. Again this should be something the system remembers and populates throughout the site. The system in place falls short only giving the last few watched lessons in your account section. From session to session watched status seems to come and go. I found myself asking, did I already watch this?

There needs to be a total time on courses via instructor based search. Sometimes I only had an hour and I need a class that is an hour or less. Via topic total run time is available but via instructor search I have to add up all the segments in my head. I don’t like to do math in my head.

Variety of topics needs to be expanded in some area. Courses are geared towards photographers and this is one of the great strengths of Kelby Training. However, they are very short in the topic of videography, a topic many photographers are finding themselves smack-dab in the middle of with the advent of DSLR video. They have a smattering of classes on this topic, but not, sadly what I now need.

Summing Up

After two months I have canceled my subscription to Kelby Training. I have done this for several reasons:

  1. Time – I have other things that need to be done right now and I don’t have the time coming up that I did these last few months.
  2. Content – I have seen most of what I set out to see. There are a few other courses (Matt Kloskowski’s HDR class for instance) that I would like to take and may still find time to get them in before this month runs out.
  3. Specific Training Needs – I need some pretty specific software training going forward that Kelby doesn’t offer (namely After Effects and Premiere Pro, topics given their heavy Adobe CS focus they should add). For this I will try

Will I revisit Kelby Training in a few months? Likely, however my experience with will further dictate future online training purchases.

I guess the best question is would I recommend this training to others…and actually I already have. Several people I know have asked about learning photography and though I think the best training is from actually doing, failing, analyzing your experience, then trying again, if you want some courses to put under your belt, Kelby Training is a great place to go. Hell, the Joe McNally lighting courses were worth the price of admission alone, which brings me to a personal note. Joe, if you are ever in Springfield, MO (or we happen to be at the same event) let me know because you sir, I owe a beer.