Book Review: Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It by Scott Kelby (@scottkelby)

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: September 9, 2011

Category: General

Ok so imagine how good it would be if somebody out there would write a photography book that covered everything from the photo shoot, the equipment, settings used, the editing and all the way through to the final image?

Well, imagine no more because it’s been done and it’s available NOW!!!

Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It is the latest book from Best Selling Author Scott Kelby and having had a copy for the past week I don’t hesitate in telling you that it absolutely ROCKS!!!

This new book is made up of 13 Chapters; 12 of which cover a completely different photo shoot using a completely different lighting set up.

So let’s take a look at what makes this book destined to be such a winner…


  • Chapter 1: Clamshell Lighting (3 Light Classic Beauty Setup
  • Chapter 2: High Contrast Lighting (2-Light Edgy Setup)
  • Chapter 3: Dramatic Glamour Lighting (2-Light Dramatic Setup)
  • Chapter 4:  Lens-Flare Lighting (3-Light Lens Flare Setup)
  • Chapter 5: Using Ring Flash for Fashion Lighting (1-Light Ring Flash Setup)
  • Chapter 6: Edgy Lighting (3-Light Sports Setup)
  • Chapter 7: Full-Length Fashion Lighting (1-Light Full Length Setup)
  • Chapter 8: Soft Glamour Lighting (1-Light Home Interior Setup)
  • Chapter 9: Fashion Side Lighting (2-Light On-Location Fashion Setup)
  • Chapter 10: Lighting for Composition (4-Light Sports Composite Setup)
  • Chapter 11: Dramatic Side Lighting (1-Light Dramatic Setup)
  • Chapter 12: 1940’s Hollywood-Style Lighting (2-Light Beauty Setup)
  • Chapter 13: If You Use Hot Shoe Flash Instead…

Each Chapter is split into 4 sections that take you through the photo shoot and all the way to the final edited image, covering the Set Up, Gear Guide, Camera Settings and the Post Processing.

The Set Up
This is the first thing you’ll notice that sets this book apart from any other. The practice of including lighting diagrams has been in books and on the web for some time now; in fact I have been known myself to include the occasional hand drawn masterpiece when I write about a recent photo shoot, but Scott’s gone one better.

Each chapter is packed with behind the scenes photographs showing the lighting set up and the position of the model and photographer from every angle imaginable; left, right, behind and above…

Don’t get me wrong, lighting diagrams can be really helpful I know but they’re very much a case of ‘the light was kind of in errmmmmm this position’. In Light It, Shoot it, Retouch It, you see photos from every angle so you get to see every light modifier actually in position as opposed to where it was ‘roughly’ and this alone sets this new book apart from the crowded shelves of Photography books; but this is just the start…

Gear Guide & Camera Settings
With each chapter Scott shows every single piece of kit that was used from the camera, lights, modifiers, triggers and accessories.

In addition to that though Scott goes into all the settings used on the lights and the camera too…

Sure when we go off to replicate the shots the settings will vary depending on the environment we’re in but having these settings as a starting point is surely a good thing; if only to give an idea of ratios.

Talking of lights, throughout the book there are a whole mix of set ups from one light through to multiple lights and even down to using Speedlights, but more on that later.

One very important message that comes across in every chapter is that you don’t have to have the expensive kit to produce great results and if anything, rather than spending your money on the lights, spend the money on the modifiers.

Post Processing
Each chapter closes by covering the editing that took the out of camera image to it’s final print ready version.

This is where it all comes together as Scott goes through each and every part of the edit step by step just as he does in his previous book Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographer using Photoshop [Link]…

This previous book was a sell out in no time and created a buzz around the photography industry like no other that I can remember so having the post production section in this new book too, seriously takes it to new heights.

What if I don’t use or have access to a studio?
There may be some folks feeling that the book won’t be relevant to them because they either don’t use a studio or just don’t have access to one but Scott’s thought of everything, as the final shoot sees him on location for a fashion shoot where he talks through the setup, dealing with the ambient light, positions of his lighting gear and why, settings and so on…

Ok so what about those folks who just use Speedlights?
Well Speedlights are covered too; in fact better than you could hope for, because at the end of the book Scott repeats all the shoots but with speedlights and relevant modifers to produce the same results…

I can’t even begin to imagine how much time and effort has gone into this book that covers so much and at the same time covers it in so much detail leaving the reader in no doubt as to what to do.

Another thing I also really like is one that maybe wasn’t intentional and that’s that the majority of the studio shoots are done on the smaller sized seamless backgrounds as opposed to the full ‘studio’ size.

So why is this so important?
Well, not everyone has the luxury of a studio let alone enough room to set up a full sized seamless and stands or indeed the ability to transport such kit around. The 1/2 sized is much more portable and can be carried around relatively easy and set up in most spaces which again shows that all the setups can be replicated whether you use a studio or not.

This new book from Scott Kelby is destined to be THE photography book to own!!!

The book’s 264 pages are packed full of information and the attention to the detail is outstanding, ultimately leaving the reader in no doubt as to what to do and most importantly giving them the confidence and belief that they too can create great images.

Highly Recommended

At the time of writing this review Light It, Shoot It, Retouch is available for Pre-Order in Paperbook but available to download NOW on Kindle and Kindle for iPad

Pages 264
ISBN-10: 0321786610
ISBN-13: 978-0321786616

Amazon (Paperback) £16.19 (RRP £29.99) [Link]

Amazon (Kindle) £20.20 [Link]

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  1. steve bryson

    Ok, that’s two photography books in the same year! Cheers for the great review Glyn – although I’d appreciate it if you’d please stop it, it’s costing me money…

    …although, admittedly, only about the price of a decent curry!

    • Glyn

      @Steve…I hear you mate, I hear you…but heck…the quality of the books being produced at the moment is incredible!

  2. Dave Clayton

    Great review Glyn as usual.

    With an impending purchase of an iPad2 it has made me start thinking about downloading books and magazines rather than have the print edition. It still seems an alien concept as it somehow feels right holding a book but got to embrace technology – an the LightIt magazine has shown how the iPad can make a publication better. What I never get is why a digital version of something costs more than the real thing – that will be my stumbling block with some books and also I like looking at my bookshelf and seeing my Kelby titles all lined up :o)

    This book of Scott’s is really going to help me understand lighting a lot more than I do – hoping to get it v.soon – print or iPad….only one way to find out…..FIIIIIIIIIIGHT !

    • Glyn

      @Dave…Mate, you’ll seriously love this new book by the Guv’nor … it’s literally overflowing with info; best yet!!!

      Oh and iPad 2 you say??? Get you 🙂

  3. jose

    Hey Glyn,
    Hope all is well, its been a while since we’ve chatted. Glad to you see you doing well. I just wanted to point out how Scott used Adam Hayward of the buccaneers football team. Adam is my neighbor and is a great guy. Scott actually was going to use him as a model a few years back. Long story short if you would like to find out more about Adam, check out the link below its a great story.
    On a side not I actually shot the front cover and a few other images that of him that are covered in the article. Any ways my friend take care and keep up the great job your doing in the photo user community…..


    • Glyn

      @Jose…Fantastic to hear from you my friend!!! How’s things?

  4. Jonathan Thompson

    Nice review Glyn and well done Scott for producing what looks like another awesome book. It’s nice to see the same shots taken with the small strobes too. I know most of the book is showing studio strobes worth gazillions but it’s about the control of light. As my 1st mentor, Kent Kallberg ( told me, light is light, wether it’s through a window with a bed sheet (Joe McNally) or a torch with plastic carrier bag over it (Tim Wallace) or those work lights you get from B&Q or Homedepo, how to use, control, position & modify the light it what matters. My point is you can recreate most of this stuff, on a budget, by understanding light, then you can sculpt and caress the light, now all I have to do is practice what I preach, so I’m off this weekend to do just that. Looking forward to getting the book.

    Keep up the good work. Chat soon 🙂

    • Glyn

      @Jonathan…Cheers for stopping by and commenting mate. Really looking forward to hearing more about your shoot on Saturday 10th, oh and re the book…you’ll love it!!!

  5. SC

    I’ve had this book on pre order with Amzon for some time and your review has wet my appetite so thanks for sharing. The quality of books and dvds to have come out from mr Kelby and crew this year have been awesome – this is bound to deliver as all his books do. Just need Amazon UK to stock up and dispatch quickly!!!

    • Glyn

      SC…Couldn’t agree with you more; the quality of the books this year has indeed been outstanding! Fingers crossed Amazon stock up…fast!

  6. DaveT

    Great review Glyn. How about a review on a book case to accommodate the growing library;-)

    • Glyn

      @DaveT…Like it…lol 🙂 Now if ever there was a marketing angle for an iPad that’s it 🙂

  7. Leader

    i want this book for free .



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