Book Review: “The Digital Photography Book, Part 5: Photo Recipes” by Scott Kelby

Part 5 of Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Book series has been published in August 2014 continuing what have been the best selling books on digital photography of all times.

Scott Kelby is not only an awesome photographer who is sharing his expertise in this book series only but also, as I would call it, a very successful online-media entrepreneur.

Please have a look at the following resources to learn more about his work:


Kelby Media Group: – His company providing training, education and information around digital photography, Lightroom and Photoshop

Kelbyone: – Online courses, videos and tutorials around digital photography, Lightroom and Photoshop

Kelbyone on Youtube: – Youtube channel providing a number of shows, such as “The Grid” & “Photoshop User TV” and “Photography Tips & Tricks” and other resources around digital photography, Lightroom and Photoshop


Now looking at the book itself:

(Check out the prices of The Digital Photography Book, Part 5: Photo Recipes or Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Boxed Set, Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5

The book is 240 pages strong in its paperback version and is also available as an e-book.

It is structured in nine chapters covering the following topics:

  1. Natural Light Portraits
  2. One Light Photography
  3. Two Lights Photography
  4. Hot Shoe Flash Photography
  5. Wedding Photography
  6. Travel Photography
  7. Landscape & Nature Photography
  8. “Other” Photography e.g product, motorsports, car, sports and pets
  9. Post Processing using Lightroom & Photoshop

Each chapter is following the same structure: Following by a rather useless but fun intro, which has somewhat become a trademark of Scott Kelby’s books the reader is confronted with a photo falling into the respective category and the basic camera settings used to take it (shutter speed, aperture, ISO, focal length) setting the stage.

Then the topic is broken down into smaller subjects e.g. looking at chapter 5, Wedding Photogrpahy, it covers:

  • Controlling Light Outdoors
  • Close-up Detail Shots
  • Mixing Natural Light with Strobes
  • Reception Flash
  • Be the second shooter
  • Dramatic Lighting
  • Using Natural Light Indoors
  • Dramatic Edge Lighting with One Light
  • Go super-wide for an Epic Feel
  • The Lens Flare Look
  • Controlling what you see in the Frame

To give you one more example, looking at chapter 6, Travel Photography, it covers:

  • Hiding tourists, car, buses, etc…
  • There’s a Picture in there Somewhere
  • Moving to Hide Distracting Stuff
  • Finding Simplicity in a Busy Outdoor Scene
  • Shoot the Details Instead
  • The Waiting Game Gamble
  • Zooming to Hide
  • Changing Time and Perspective
  • Another Trick for Hiding Tourists
  • Shooting the Food
  • Going on a Stakeout

Now following what this book really is about: Photo Recipes”, Scott Kelby provides the reader with a structured approach for each topic represented by a bullet point above in a way, that he starts with, what I would call a behind the scene photo, where the reader can see the final image’s subject, the camera and lighting setup (if any). Together with a short description as to what is to be achieved this introductions eta the scene for the photo recipe to come.

The introduction is followed by an overview of the camera settings applied, so that the reader can easily recreate the approach when trying to achieve similar results. This usually also includes a description of additional tools used, such as filters, tripods, remote shutter controls and lighting equipment.

Then the reader is shown the final image (after post-processing) to see what has been achieved by Scott Kelby and his team in the given environment.

But it does not stop here. Once the final image is introduced the reader is taken on a journey to follow the creative thought process of Scott Kelby to the extend that Scott Kelby describes his idea behind the photo explaining why he believes a particular composition and the creative styles applied work well in the given setting. A part of the book I find very useful as it allows you to reflect on your own photography and approach to different situations.

Each photo recipe is then closed by a short description as to what kind of post-processing has been applied using Lightroom and/or Photoshop. This is kept on a very basic level so that it is easy to understand even for beginners or users of other software, such as Aperture or even iPhoto in my opinion.

And this is what this book is about. The reader gets approximately 80 recipes describing how a specific photo has been taken and the guidance as to how to create something similar himself.


For whom is the book?

It is not a book for beginners!

You have to be familiar with your camera to find this book useful and at least be able to understand what aperture, shutter speed and ISO are and how to set them in manual shooting mode. Also for the chapters on strobes and flash lighting you need to be familiar with how to setup simple one/two light settings and have the respective diffusers such as umbrellas, soft boxes and reflectors to make the most out of the book.

This book does not provide you with detailed technical explanations but hands on advise!

If you have not reached the stage described above yet in your photography I recommend that you better start out with Book No. 1 of the series and work your way towards No. 5, which will be more rewarding in my opinion.

(Check out the prices of The Digital Photography Book: Part 1 (2nd Edition) on

I think the book is useful for those photographers that have already started their creative journey and want to expand their expertise e.g. from Landscape to Wedding Photography. The book itself provides a good source for creative ideas that can serve as an inspiration to kick of your own projects or give a new edge to your existing repertoire.

For me it was a natural addition to the initial four books, which helped me greatly to embark on my creative journey and to which I return from time to time when I experience a problem, am not satisfied with a shoot I made or just need some inspiration as to how to reach the next level.

So, if you are not a beginner but as I would say intermediate or experienced photographer this book is for you.

Enjoy reading!

(Check out the prices of The Digital Photography Book, Part 5: Photo Recipes or Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Boxed Set, Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5


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