Podcast Review #4 - The GRID

The GRID is just one of many productions from Scott Kelby, he of Photoshop tutorial book fame. I must admit, the niche he has carved out in the photography & photoshop scene is not one I've particularly engaged with in the past but that's purely because the one and only book of his I purchased I ultimately found was of limited use. This was some time ago & maybe I bought the wrong book but I ended up developing my Photoshop skills elsewhere and consequently I haven't really looked at what he has been producing for quite some time. Based on what I've seen from the GRID so far that's probably a shame!

The best analogy I can make for the GRID is that it's the "ESPN Sports News" of the photo podcast world. It's well produced with a very professional look & feel - even their studio set feels like they are delivering the show from inside Iron Man's helmet. Scott has many co-hosts, some considerably better than others, and the premise of the GRID is built around photography industry news, advice & tips. It is NOT a Photoshop or Lightroom podcast and it has a wider appeal because of it. While Scott is a charismatic & appealing host and can play off the others he has alongside him (especially show-regular RC Concepcion), I do find that episodes where Scott & RC are missing are flat and uninspiring. Maybe over time I'd come to appreciate the other hosts but now I have watched at least 20 episodes in the last week I feel the show is really built around Scott & RC's chemistry.

I scanned the feed to try and find a range of different shows to get as balanced a feel as I could, picking a mix of interviews, critique shows & feature specials. From the outset, for a show that sets out to talk about "industry topics" there seemed to be an abundance of viewer website & photo critique episodes and from what I've seen so far it's shied away from news or industry discussions! Considering Scott's empire is based around learning I actually think this works better, there are plenty of other photography-news podcasts and I don't know if the GRID needs to fill the news-show gap. Their critiques are generally good too - Scott & RC are courteous in their feedback but don't pull punches; if something is shit, they say so but in a way that someone can learn from even in the cases where I don't agree with them :)

Outside of the critiques the show generally has two other main subjects - interviews & "panel show discussions". The discussion episodes were usually the ones I was least interested in and by the end I found myself skipping through them at 1.5x speed - too much waffle, too little learning for my tastes. The interview or featured guest ones were more of a mixed bag with some being excellent and some being excrutiatingly painful (such as the Jared Polin show - I thought Scott was going to punch him at one stage!).

That said, for all of the appeal of Scott & the learning potential from watching critiques the show does have some issues. First of all the podcasts are huge. At approximately 1.6GB per show I managed to fill my phone for the first time ever with only a dozen or so episodes. I don't know why they make the shows so large for an iTunes podcast, maybe they are distrubuting them in 4k quality but for phones and tablets that's pointless. I know the GRID is broadcast live online too and I suspect the podcast version is just a dump of the live show without optimising it for mobile devices. Also, while video-casts take more time & effort to watch as opposed to an audio-only podcast, at least the video can be listened to as an audio-only podcast and playing it back at 1.5x speed offsets the very long running time of the show - it also means you can skip through all of the advertising. This works for the discussion & interview shows but obviously for a critique show it doesn't work at all. Would I religiously download & watch 90 minutes of other people's work being critiqued if I wasn't deliberately reviewing the show? Probably not, but it's a testament to how useful & well presented the critiques were that I may well continue to now!

Overall, I'm going to continue to keep an eye on the GRID. I'll probably check out some of the website & photography critique episodes in future but skip the rest unless the subject really grabs my attention. However it will always be the first podcast I choose to skip, simply because they take so long to download, take up so much room on my phone and it's uncommon that I can dedicated an hour & a half to sit and watch a photography show no matter how slick the delivery is.

Pros

  • Great production values, very slick & professional presentation
  • Critiques are usually well delivered & genuinely useful for learning

Cons

  • Needlessly large file size, takes too long to download
  • Shows without Scott Kelby or RC Concepcion are typically not worth watching