Crush The Composition By Scott Kelby

1 hr 34 min
Difficulty Difficulty Difficulty

Video transcripts available with a subscription.

Most classes and books on photography composition contain the same information they did 25 years ago. The rules don't change and most books only show great examples of photography without showing you how to apply it to your photography. In the next hour, Scott plans to change that.
Scott takes 5 minutes to go over the 5 main "rules" of photographic composition to refresh everyone's memory before moving on.
Secret #1: "Work the Scene." Professionals try a bunch of different things during a shoot. By sharing some less than perfect shots, Scott shows the audience how he tried several different things at a photo shoot until he got the shot he wanted. Tip: Make a shot list.
Many times, you'll happen upon something that you inherently know will make a good shot, but when you press the button - not so much. Scott shares more examples of the multiple angles and approaches he takes to one subject in order to find what it was that his mind knew would be a good shot.
Once you get to the point where you know you are hitting on the angle or approach that makes the shot, work the settings (#2) then work the sharpness (#3).
Find the distracting things, simplify the image, move the photographer.
Learn to only show your absolute best stuff. Scott illustrates this by showing two very similar, but drastically different slide shows.
Take a good look at the work of the photographers you like and figure out what it is that you like. It will give you insights to your own work.
Scott gives you a quick list of takeaways for you to keep in mind for the next time you shoot.
Profile photo of Scott Kelby

Meet your instructor

Scott Kelby


Scott is the President of KelbyOne, an online educational community for photographers, Photoshop and Lightroom users. He's editor and publisher of Photoshop User Magazine, Editor of "Lightroom magazine"; Conference Technical Chair for the Photoshop World Conference & Expo, and the author of a string of bestselling Photoshop, Lightroom...

Scott's Courses


Join the Discussion
  1. Profile photo of Janet Janet

    Excellent video Scott. Lots of great information. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Profile photo of PBlais PBlais

    I saw Scott first at in Richmond a short while ago and liked the show. I Joined up here and saw this video and OMG. What if everything you thought was right. My education was through Architecture School where Studio was the law. People were able to not have a place to live and lived in the studio! Back in the 70’s it was indeed possible. Ain’t no text books- just show your stuff. It really is about how you think and making what you think mean something. We all get stupid ideas and it’s about knowing you can let go that makes anything possible.

    Later I came to computers and then into a warped photography of the extreme technical side. Had a blast and went broke. Then to software and now back to art. Photography is an art – no kidding even it it can be a business. The whole rule of thirds and all the rest of hat “formula” really isn’t much even if it often matters (it does sort of) It can still suck!.

    The idea of “I think there is something there but i don’t know what it is” – Really is what it is! It’s ART – ain’t no rules of anything. It’s why there is no perfect image that can say OK no more left to shoot.

    The ability to latch onto an idea and be free enough to let go because it could be better is the key. It’s the concept in “Studio” and sketching. You do a sketch but it isn’t for the money yet! Just because you woke up and had a great idea does not mean you can’t have an even better ones! Working the shot is Studio! It’s working harder and really is about letting go of the last shot! I’ve never seen my great shot and walked away! I’ve also not thought I had it until post too. The shoot is a process you do until the light runs out. Reality shuts you down.

    I’m only here because I want ideas! It’s the only thing that changes how tou think and that is what life is about!

  3. Profile photo of mark96s mark96s

    Scott this class was one of the best classes I have ever seen on composition and creating images. You really opened my eyes to the process that all great photographers go through to get those great images. I was one of those people you talked about in your class that thought great photographers took a handful of shots to get that great shot and it was only us untrained and not so good photographers that took hundreds of bad shots to hopefully find that great shot. You have validated the process for me and have given me inspiration to get back out there and shoot knowing that it is the process that will pay off. Thanks so much for sharing this useful information.

  4. Profile photo of Francesca Hughes Francesca Hughes

    Superb class Scott! Really love this live show, feels like an episode of the Grid. Great tips and lessons learnt here! As always, wrote a lot of notes! – Francesca

  5. Profile photo of mlakav mlakav

    Really good comments! I am, too, sometimes too fast to pull out my tripod and set myself in stone :)
    Very good points!

  6. Profile photo of Jose Jimenez Jose Jimenez

    Amazing course on composition. It really opened my eyes!
    Saludos desde Puerto Rico!!!!

  7. Profile photo of plouks plouks

    Scott I am reading page by page (for the second time) Lightroom 5 on my Nook. The book is exemplary in its substance on how to utilize all of the tools in Lightroom. I have learned much.

    But, there is a new product called Picture Keeper that is a thumb drive that supposedly finds and downloads all the photos on your computer–easily. I have two back ups of my photography plus carbonite–so I am ok, I think on the back ups (plus I back up Lightroom on a reg basis per your recommendations. So, is the Picture Keeper a device that is safe to use on a computer.

    BTW, I am in the midst of adding images to my brand new website, and am using Lightroom and Photoshop Elements to resize the photos so they will all be nice little thumb nails–all the same size on the site catalog. Your book has been invaluable to me in this endeavor!

  8. Profile photo of Joseph Crawford Joseph Crawford

    This course was very very well thought out. I want to thank Scott Kelby for showing us what a shoot is really like for a professional photographer. He kills the theory that a great photographer is one who can arrive on the scene snap a picture or two and walk away with that perfect shot. In reality it takes a lot of hard work and moving around.

    Thanks for this really good course it has made a light go on in my head for sure, now to start finding subjects I like and practicing!

  9. Profile photo of jcwest1 jcwest1

    Hi Scott. I have watched your courses on ACR. Great information. I have a comment/suggestion. When you go through the merging of images in HDR Pro and finish them in ACR you don’t take it to the finish of saving the image back to where you started from. I use LR5 as my cataloging and DAM program. LR5 won’t accept 32 bit PSD files, finished in ACR or not. It only accepts 8 or 16 bit PSD or TIFF files. In order to get them back to LR the 32 bit image has to be converted into the 16 bit file which changes the characteristics of the image.

    Trying to get through to Adobe is ridiculous. Their web site is like a fire wall that you can’t get through when you try to get help of make a suggestion. Maybe you and/or Matt can get to Adobe and suggest that they engineer LR5 so that it will accept and work with 32 bit PSD files.

    Another suggestion is that in Photo Shop when you are through with a tool that you can click on it again to re-dock it, as in LR5, rather than having to select another tool. This is probably been the way it has always been but if they can do it on one software they should be able to do it in the other.

    I am enjoying your courses and all the courses that I am taking through KelbyOne and learning a lot. Keep up the great work.

    Thanks. Look forward to hearing from you.

  10. Profile photo of Ron Ron

    After studying a number of well known books on composition and several video courses this course managed to bring it all together for me. What I learned was that the fundamentals weren’t rocket science and that it takes a lot of work to get to that final image you’re proud of. The “Ah hah!” moment for me was learning how many shots were taken as you “worked it” before you got to one that worked for you. …And that was no guarantee it didn’t need further cropping and work in post.

    Kudos, Scott!!!

  11. Profile photo of Glenn Glenn

    Great class! Now, I truly understand why working the scene, excellent subject, and consistent practice is key. Thanks for sharing. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  12. Profile photo of clemennl clemennl

    Fantastic course, you must have been a fly on my camera. Been there, done that but never put it into perspective the way you did Scott. Thank you so much, can’t wait to get out and apply this. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  13. Profile photo of Steve27 Steve27

    This video should be the first one to watch if you are serious about your photography! Scott, you are the Jedi Master surrounded by Jedi Knights!!!! Amazing collection of photographers sharing their hobby.
    Thanks Scott! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  14. Profile photo of usarora usarora

    Really amazing video. I spent the whole night watching your courses. And this one is amazing. I feel that you made it clear that, “common sense is not so common”. All things are very common which most of us ignore as trying to do something different. It really makes clear that, if you want to be better at something just keep doing it. So keep taking shots and you will get your favourite shot. Thanks for great inspiring courses! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  15. Profile photo of paulwebbphotoart paulwebbphotoart

    Fantastic! Right down to the nitty gritty of why people become great photographers. Scott you are wonderful. This course will result in me changing the way I take photographes. And I will remove 95% of the photos from my web site, and replace them one-by-one with only my best photos as I make them. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  16. Profile photo of nikonD50 nikonD50

    This is one of the most useful workshops I have ever seen that explains how to move from being an average photographer to a better one, and perhaps eventually to a great one. In my opinion the best photograph in the whole workshop was the one by Joe McNally! But, Scott is a great teacher! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  17. Profile photo of krille.lopez krille.lopez

    An absolutely amazing video! I really enjoyed the heart wearm and humorous approach of Scott and the step by step guiding that he gives. I got very inspired watching it late in the evening that I almost got the urge to grab my camera and head into the night to go capture some photos. I really appreciate the time you took to teach this and give us a shove in the right direction – maybe I’m not that far away from becoming a good photographer. But you definitely reached the heart of being a photographer and this video will absolutely keep me moving forward to one day be able to take the shot that I love and am proud of! Best regard from Stockholm, Sweden. I will pass by Nybrogrillen and see if those french fries really are as good as you say they are ;) —- Yes, please post my feedback

  18. Profile photo of Darius Liktorius Darius Liktorius

    Awesome course. Best one yet. Thank you for this service. I truly appreciate it. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  19. Profile photo of garywild garywild

    Truly a superb educational experience. I now have a new Mantra “Work the scene, work the settings, work the sharpness”!! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  20. Profile photo of mtwaggin mtwaggin

    Absolutely FABULOUS!!!!! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  21. Profile photo of Pedro Guardiola Pedro Guardiola

    muy buen curso, me gusta mucho el sistema de enseanza y los ejemplos muy buenos. Saludos desde Chile y ojala alguna vez se hiciera un workshop en mi pais, porque la comunidad de fotografos es muy grande y hay muy buenos exponentes. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  22. Profile photo of tracelyn tracelyn

    I loved this course! It was inspiring, uplifting, educational and technical all rolled into one. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  23. Profile photo of ziggysden ziggysden

    This was an excellent course for a beginner (or any level come to that). I liked the way you focused on the emotional reaction to scenes in equal measure to ‘technical’ aspects and rules. There’s some really good advice here. Probably one of the most beneficial hours I’ve spent related to photography. Thanks Scott :-) —- Yes, please post my feedback

  24. Profile photo of dilipjoshi.boss dilipjoshi.boss

    Love Scott’s teaching style. This was hugely inspirational and confidence-building. As in other fields, the best have the supreme confidence to share in a totally open manner – I feel a lot more comfortable about my ‘average’ shots and Scott’s summary at the end of every course encapsulates key points in a nutshell. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  25. Profile photo of andrek andrek

    Very nice course! Great insight! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  26. Profile photo of Paul Moeller Paul Moeller

    One of your best. Thanks —- Yes, please post my feedback

  27. Profile photo of jwesterveld jwesterveld

    Very good! I loved Scott sharing all his crappy photos. Makes me feel better about all the lousy photos I’ve taken. But within each set, I can sometimes find “the one”.

    Thanks! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  28. Profile photo of Rachel Melton Rachel Melton

    Okay, so when I clicked on this course, I was thinking, “Hmm..really? I already know about composition.” Not. I should have known Scott would do more than the 5 basic rules. He blew it out of the water. Amazing course, and well worth watching! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  29. Profile photo of Amanda Seacombe Amanda Seacombe

    Thank you, thank you thank you, this is the tutorial I have been waiting for and not realised it. So stupid, so obvious, what have I been thinking, I have been basing my progress on percentage of good shots to blah, and aiming for a mythical 80%. Just this one tutorial has made my membership worthwhile. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  30. Profile photo of Pamela Reiss Pamela Reiss

    Teriffic class. So easy to listen to, grasp the ideas and encourage thoughtful picture taking.
    Thank you for your honesty. I will probably watch this video many times over the course of my learning . —- Yes, please post my feedback

  31. Profile photo of catherineshore catherineshore

    Ok Really thanks for your generosity! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  32. Profile photo of catherineshore catherineshore

    thanks!! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  33. Profile photo of aboss3 aboss3

    This was the best photography workshop of my life! Scott is great at explaining the things that you cannot learn in books. I’ve read a ton of photography books on composition, and today I learned more than all of them combined. Two thumbs up, and I recommend it to anyone looking to expand his or her photography composition knowledge. Excellent!!! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  34. Profile photo of ErichAnderson ErichAnderson

    Hi Scott,
    I have been looking at improving my photography for a while and paid the $25 for Kelby Training, in my opinion the best money I have spent. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  35. Profile photo of Jonathan Minott Jonathan Minott

    Scott, thank you so much for all of the excellent training. I loved the “Crush the Composition” course. I believe it will help me tremendously! Work the scene then get out the tripod is genius. Also thanks for showing all of your images. Great course. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  36. Profile photo of Ray Dosh Ray Dosh

    Excellent! It’s helped me already! Good, common-sense stuff that none of the composition books tell you. It has encouraged me greatly and I now understand that I have to work the scene and what that means. The course also taught me to trust my instincts about a scene. This is one I’ll be adding to my DVD library! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  37. Profile photo of Larry Dennis Larry Dennis

    Very good workshop. What Scott said about most of the composition books I have read is true: Repeat the 5 rules of composition, then show pictures. Boring and repetitive. Scott filled in the spaces between the 5 rules with easy to undestand principles and easy to recognize examples. As always, his work-flow suggestions are intuitive and enlightening. And such self-effacement to show his ugly shots! Thanks Scott and NAPP. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  38. Profile photo of Sundra Tanakoh Sundra Tanakoh

    This is exactly the reinforcement we need to go over and over. I learned much, and I know I will come back to have it all drilled into me again and again, because we never stop learning. Very well done and as always worth every moment we spend watching and worth every penney we spend to watch. Thank you a million times! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  39. Profile photo of davisda1 davisda1


    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! for a road map to the big picture :)

    David Davis —- Yes, please post my feedback

  40. Profile photo of Lecaro Lecaro

    Great seminar. You really opened my eyes… I am still at beginning and it was very useful. I really like your work with this site, i am finding very helpful. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  41. Profile photo of vivianfrerichs vivianfrerichs

    I love this course! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  42. Profile photo of Ron Deviney Ron Deviney

    Scott you are amazing 300 times! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  43. Profile photo of Vineet Potdar Vineet Potdar

    Hi Scott, I am a big fan of The Grid and had been long contemplating taking the online courses. I decided to take up the 24 hr free access pass to check out a few courses before I purchased the subscription. I saw just one class; Crushing the Composition and I immediately knew I would love every minute of the annual subscription. I completed the purchase and I am really excited to see all the other wonderful classes you have online.

    Thanks! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  44. Profile photo of averagegolfer averagegolfer

    Awesome, best tips on comp I have watched yet. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  45. Profile photo of mdd770 mdd770

    Scott, what a magnificent course! The key moment was the segment of the fireman by Joe M, where you explain writing down what you like about your favorites, or else you have great ones that you don’t know why, and lousy ones and you don’t know why. You should stand on your chair and say that!
    Such great ideas for all of us.
    It was also very helpful to see that pros take lots of bad ones but know how to work it to make a good one or 2, and also are great editors, and show only the best few.
    Thank you for this course. One of my favorites on Kelby Training…ever!
    It should be required to watch this one! We ALL struggle with these ideas at some point. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  46. Profile photo of dfmjr1 dfmjr1

    I’ve never heard Scott give a bad piece of advice. His over the shoulder approach in his books comes to life in his videos and class work.
    —- Yes, please post my feedback

  47. Profile photo of alefbeh alefbeh

    One of the most informative and constructive course on composition I’ve ever had.
    Thank you.

  48. Profile photo of alefbeh alefbeh

    I just wanted to drop a note to first of all thank you for being so “natural” and yourself. I really appreciated your sincerity and the pace of this course. I learned a lot and most important, learned to trust my vision and intuision. I thank you for this great course, and want to say sincerely that you are a genuine and wonderful person. Hope you continue to have lots and lots of success in your work and personal life. Thank you!

  49. Profile photo of richardnadeau richardnadeau

    This is a brilliant course Scott. Who else would reveal the “wizard behind the curtain” to us? This took courage, brains and heart. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  50. Profile photo of EricBier EricBier


    Application of the techniques discussed in Crush the Composition to the Crush the Composition course, leaving only the good stuff, will make it a masterpiece. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  51. Profile photo of bevcam bevcam

    I loved that you showed us all the pictures that weren’t right! I’ve always thought that top photographers just got it right almost immediately. It’s been an enormous help to see your process and now I won’t be afraid to keep trying different angles, etc and I won’t feel embarrassed about it like I used to. Brilliant advice!
    M.Allison – London —- Yes, please post my feedback

  52. Profile photo of gternent gternent

    If the communication link speed isn’t fast; link when mobile it would fantastic if after pressing pause the picture would freeze but the download would continue and then we could press play when most is loaded a watch and listen without interruption. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  53. Profile photo of Gregory Gregory

    This one hits the mark! Back in the late ’60’s, I had a community college instructor, who turned the light on in a very similar fashion. He had us shoot with only one prime lens. He then had us start shooting the subject from as far away as possible and then slowly move in and shoot from every angle possible until we could get no closer. Doing this over and over, trained my eye, until I could identify a good composition without consciously thinking about what “rules” were being used. Thanks Scott! —- Yes, please post my feedback

  54. Profile photo of joeltb joeltb

    This was probably one of the best courses ever! Covered a lot of good content. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  55. Profile photo of RandyH RandyH

    This was an excellent course and again, something well worth joining the site for since I live in an area where I would probably not have a chance to hear something like this in person. In my current job I am known for someone who thinks outside the box to accomplish tasks. I think this course brought taking photos a little more closer into what my thinking is. I need to spend more times in areas I go to get the picture I want. Generally the people I go with are in a hurry to move on, hopefully I can convenience them to join and watch this, or perhaps go alone and let them see the results form better photos. —- Yes, please post my feedback

  56. Profile photo of David Crippen David Crippen

    I learn something from every video, but this one is PROFOUND for me! We have all had the rules of composition drilled into us. There was always something missing for me, I’d take a photo or two, yet I was missing something that I saw. It just was there, what “IT” was. By Scott walking through the process of searching for “IT”, that thing that caught your eye, has literally changed the way I see. Thank you!

  57. Profile photo of Ken Driscoll Ken Driscoll

    Just a quick note to say for the price you can’t go wrong, there are some of the best names in the business teaching us to shoot like they do. Hearing the tools they use, the way they shoot lets us know they are not Gods, or Wizards, and if we study their words, their advice we can shoot like them too. I love this kind of training, it is like instant coffee, one drink and you’re awake and ready to go… this training one sip and we’re ready to go…

    I will tell all my friends, on top of great training you have the 100% money back guarantee… there is no way to lose here, we can only get better. I give the training an AAA+++ with four thumbs up, my two thumbs ad my wife’s two thumbs, she likes seeing me happy, and hearing new stories, Kelby training stories beats old police stories… LOL

  58. Profile photo of Terry Richmond Terry Richmond

    Pretty cool course… makes you think about what you like, why you like it, and how you might go about your next several shoots. Great insights by Scott. Thanks for sharing.

  59. Profile photo of alitts alitts

    Hi Scott (or whoever reads this), I just got done watching Crush the Composition (which I read the 1st several times as Crush the Competition, lol). I’m not sure why I clicked on this video as I think I have a pretty good handle on composition (at least in relation to all the other things that I am clueless about). Anyway, I am so happy that I watched this video. Just the tip about choosing photos in Lightroom was worth watching it for. I just used that on the photos from this morning and it was fabulous. Funny how such a little thing can make such a big difference. I loved the info about editing your work and definitely have some people to share that info with. I think the part about figuring out what you like about others work will also be helpful to me. It’s kind of like you put into words things I was thinking but didn’t quite have figured out. Thank you so much. I’m ready to go crush the competition now. :)

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