Saturday, March 5, 2016

Kelby One

 Scott Kelby is one of the most prolific and best selling authors/publishers of books related to photography and image editing. He's been at the forefront of online training when it comes to Photography and image editing with Photoshop. Creating the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) along with his self branded Kelby training site and recently combined the two subscription based entities into KelbyOne which did not win the favor of his membership due to the new combined subscription price point.

 I have been a member of NAPP & Kelby for some time but I feel that their product has lacked the polish it once had and more and more content has less and less to do with photography. New courses seem to be for design and illustrator or interviews with photographers in the business which are sometimes interesting but are not too instructive for a photographer who isn't trying to make a buck.

 I'm reminded of a training seminar that I once attended in Buffalo where David Hobby and Joe McNally were the instructors on learning about flash photography. While Joe was amazing, David spent more time telling us how the photography market has died and how he intends to save his business by focusing on a local market around where he lives. Sorry I could care less what you are doing to make a buck, I paid my money and traveled here to hear how to light an image. Same for Kelby I want to hear how to set up my camera gear to get a better image and how edit it with Photoshop not how to design and create a better flyer to attract customers.

 The KelbyOne site and Web App has been a cluster since the merge too. Often not being able to sign in to the site and their iOS app is crashing for no apparent reason. I recently received an email telling me that my order to renew my subscription was completed. Which is a problem since I didn't initiate a renewal? It was a yet another problem with their system which I was told to ignore.  This system problem seems to have removed all records of my membership history, including my real membership expiry date. I tried to remove my credit card information from their system to avoid any other system problems and to preemptively head off an unauthorized renewal but couldn't, I get a system error, not good!

  I do not plan to renew my membership because the value isn't there, hasn't been for a while. All of the NAPP content disappeared when merged into KelbyOne and the recent content isn't worth the cost anymore, at least for me. Looking at their business it's hard to determine where they are headed. Last year they added more studios at their Florida location I though so they could create more content, which hasn't happened. This year they have laid off most of their on air talent. Yes RC their "Director of Content and Education" and content creator / main on air person was released. Mia McCormick who was a content creator for video creation and editing, a recent interest of mine who has also interviewed photographers in the business was axed too. Photoshop guy Pete Collins was also shown the door along with Scott's right hand man Brad Moore. Photoshop design guru Corey Barker was also let go making what I'd consider a clean sweep of the content creators/on air personalities.

 Researching social media for these individuals showed no hard feelings for being let go, but my recent unauthorized renewal email was sent the same day as people were being let go. Did someone in the web/billing department decide to send out a bulk email before leaving the company?

 Scott's letter explaining the company's direction makes little since to me, saying that they are going to concentrate on their core business again by providing affordable world class training for creative people instead of supplying content to third party companies. So who is going to produce this content? Are we to assume that the recognizable people you just laid off were not providing your world class training up til now? Your head of "Content and Education" (RC) I would think is pretty important going forward, no?  Who will provide content for your now PDF only version of Photoshop User magazine? Who is going to run your Weekly Podcast "The Grid" since all of the people let go were past hosts and no longer work at Kelby?  I watched a recent episode (since the layoff) hosted by Scott and unknown guest, awkward to say the least.

  I know that all the talented and creative people let go will soon find themselves in a better place.  As for Kelby I think it needs to be less guitar store and sport illustrated NFL review and more as Scott said a world class training site. You have millions of digital camera owners many of them new looking for direction on finding their way around a camera and what to do with their images once they make them. Most are not trying to make a living with photography. It seems many of the pros are now running educational field trips to exotic locations or doing training themselves becoming your competition.