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Lighting is Easy Blog

Free resource for learning how to use off-camera flash and studio lighting.

What are you listening to?

Chuck Vosburgh - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

This has more to do with your work than you think:

Who will get your camera?

Chuck Vosburgh - Monday, July 22, 2013

Recently a friend and fellow photographer passed away and what will happen to his most prized possessions – his cameras, probably wouldn't please him.

My friend passed away without a will and with no specific instructions, his cameras will not be handled the way he wanted them to. He told his wife and a couple close friends what his wishes were and reckoned that would be enough. It wasn't. The problems started right away. There were conflicting accounts of what should become of his beloved camera collection and since there were no written instructions, there is no way to verify who is correct. You would assume that everything goes to the surviving spouse, but this case was complicated by a second marriage and in this state, certain personal items are to be sold and the proceeds divided in the absence of written instructions from the deceased. Now nobody wins.

None of us likes to think about it, but no matter how young and healthy you are, it's a fact that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. You need a will. Think about it; you have a lot of expensive equipment. You may say you don't care about what happens to your camera, but there's more. What about your body of work? Your work is your legacy and depending on the laws of your state, and the state of mind of the survivors, your work could be lost as well. It helps your loved ones to know for sure how things are to be taken care of. With your instructions written, there will be no conflicting recollections and the inevitable disputes that follow.

I think you will agree, a will is something you owe to your loved ones. Why not make it even easier for them? I encourage you to do what my Mom did. Mom not only has a will, she also has a living will to provide instructions on what to do if she is incapacitated or if there are any difficult medical decisions to be made. She also has her funeral wishes written and  , and all the documents, names and phone numbers are all in a folder that I keep in a safe place. and there are copies with my sister as well just in case I'm not able to help.

Here are some things to consider:

  • If you are incapacitated, who will take care of your business while you are recovering?
  • If there are any medical decisions to be made, who will make them on your behalf, and what would you have them do?
  • When you die, what would you like done with your body and who should do it?
  • What kind of funeral do you want and where?
  • Is there a minister, priest or pastor that you want contacted?
  • Who else should be contacted?
  • What about your body of work?

There's a lot to consider and you need the help of an attorney. It doesn't cost much and it will be a great help to your loved ones. When you pass away, they will be mourning your death and lifting the burden of having to make decisions and arrangements will be the best gift you could give them.

Photographer of the Year!

Chuck Vosburgh - Monday, December 03, 2012


Tampa, Florida –  The Tampa Area Professional Photographers Association has named Chuck Vosburgh Photographer of the Year. The award is given annually based on a combination of awards earned during the year and service to the profession.

Chuck Vosburgh is a native of St. Petersburg and began his photographic career in 1986 and is based in St. Petersburg. Chuck specializes in commercial and editorial photography and has traveled the world on assignments. Chuck also teaches at the Morean Arts Center, MoreanArtsCenter.org in downtown St. Petersburg and is the editor of the Lighting Is Easy blog, LightingIsEasy.com. For more information and to see some of Chuck’s work, visit ChuckVosburgh.com.

The Tampa Area Professional Photographers Association is an organization devoted to providing educational opportunities to aid members in achieving their business and artistic goals; to create and foster fellowship, mutual respect, and cooperation between all members; to encourage an ongoing exchange of knowledge, resources and information amongst its members to build their businesses and raise the standards of the profession in general; to improve the public’s awareness and appreciation for the art of professional photography; and through education, ethical standards, cooperation and self-improvement encourage members to provide the highest quality photographic product possible. Go to TAPPA.org for details.

Backup Strategy for Photographers

Chuck Vosburgh - Monday, September 24, 2012

I've always said that there are two kinds of photographers; those who back up their files and those who eventually wish they had. Our photographs are priceless and irreplaceable and we should treat them that way. I've seen systems that range from nonexistent to insanely complex. Here's my backup workflow:

Here's how it works

In the field, as soon as possible I copy my files to my notebook computer and also to an external hard drive at the same time. Lightroom can do this simultaneously. I leave the files on the card also, which gives me three copies of the files.

Once back in the office, I copy the files to my desktop computer, which automatically back up to another hard drive hourly. The memory cards can now be erased and put back in my camera bag. I leave the files on my notebook and field external drive for now if possible.

As I work on the files, they are continuously being backed up to a second drive and once a week to a third hard drive.

One problem remains. If some kind of catastrophe happens at the office, my computer and all my backups are in the same building. The same condition that destroys my computer would also most likely destroy my backups as well. This is where off-site backups come in. Even though it's slow, my desktop is being continuously backed up online to an offsite server. I use Carbonite. Also, once a project is finished, I make a 300 year archival DVD and keep it in an off-site location. I use MAM-A gold archival disks for this.

Nothing is foolproof, but in 25 years I have never lost a file. I'm confident that as long as I follow my system I'll be fine. What's your system? Share your ideas in the comments below!

App for finding locations to shoot

Chuck Vosburgh - Thursday, August 23, 2012

ShootLocal is an app that allows you to take a photograph of a good location to shoot, add notes and it records the location of the photograph. Other photographers can search uploaded photos.

Here's what the maker has to say about the app:

ShootLocal is a social utility for photographers and videographers to scout, shoot, share and discover locations. The app is meant to simplify and enhance the process of finding and sharing new locations: connecting creatives to the world around them. In ShootLocal’s world, everyone is a location scout adding wonderful scenes and picturesque backdrops for you to capture in your next project. 

This app will be a utility to some and a game or a hobby to others.
For pros:
-> Create location databases for projects
-> Send or review locations across the country
-> Reduce resourcing costs for shoots
-> Set up a hunt for a particular element or location
-> Discover more, faster
-> Meet like-minded individuals

For play:
-> Share your favorite locations with friends 
-> Follow popular scouts and see through their lens
-> Know where to shoot and explore when you travel
-> Plan a photo shoot like a pro
-> Find nearby photo enthusiasts
-> Be rewarded with in-app badges

Features ->
Save your locations w/ multiple photos, tags and descriptions
Share locations
Find & Follow your friends/scouts
Search by location, tags or description
Twitter integration
Find nearby locations
Request a location (Location Hunts)
Reviews/Comment on locations
Save locations as favorites
Get badges
Download it for free today at the App Store or check out the web site.


Chuck Vosburgh - Thursday, May 10, 2012
Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us show up and get the job done :) Posters are available.

Why you don’t need more equipment

Chuck Vosburgh - Friday, December 23, 2011

We all love equipment, especially me. I frequently find myself thinking “if I had this I could do that”. When I speak with people about photography, students and colleagues alike, conversation quickly turns to equipment. We all love it and I see it hurting some talented people.

It’s a paradox. The best investment you can make is in your own business, but like everything else, excess is dangerous.

The new math

Vosburgh math. That’s what my accountant calls it. I can justify any purchase. You name it and I can prove that I can’t afford not to get it. I can convince myself very well. Need or want? I hate that question. For me some things that make “want” look a lot like “need” are pride, trying to be like someone else, and thinking that something besides myself is holding me back. Sometimes it’s hard to admit these things, but I have feeling I’m not alone on this.

One of my favorite sayings comes from Dave Ramsey: “We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like”.

When I was new to the business, I noticed that the old-timers didn’t use much equipment. I reasoned it was that they were old and didn’t have the energy to set up a lot of stuff. Wrong. They didn’t need it and I’ve found that as I get older and better at my craft, I use a lot less equipment than I used to. Those old guys were working smart. Study the masters whose work you admire and see what kind of equipment they had at their disposal. That will make you stop and think. And just for the record I still have plenty of energy to set things up.

Recently, I had a retired photographer whom I admire greatly visit my class. I had the oldest, lamest light kit I own that night and he was amazed at the equipment. “You mean you can adjust these lights by three stops?! Wow!” He told me about the light kit he used when he was working, and I remembered being just as amazed at a friend’s light recently that adjusts in tenth of a stop increments and has a rang of umpteen stops. It’s all relative. 

The money sucking, endless treadmill of death

Exaggeration? Yes, but not by much. Picture this; if you get that lens, you’ll be able to do work like that famous person you like and you’ll really advance your career. If you also have that body, you’ll have the kind of resolution the big clients probably want, and you’ll really advance your career. Now your lights are too slow… It goes on and on and on.

Equipment purchasing truths:

1: If I can’t pay cash, I can’t afford it.

2: If I can’t afford it and actually need it, I can rent or borrow it.

3: If the equipment to do a job costs more than the job pays, I can’t do that job and should refer it to a colleague.

4: Debt is almost never an acceptable option.

5: Clients don’t care what equipment I use.

6: My colleagues don’t care what equipment I use.

7: I’ve done some of my best work without that new thing that I want.

Do I always abide by these truths? Of course not! But the more I do the better off I am.

Share your thoughts in the comments :)

Everything I need to know about business I learned from my Mom when I was still a kid

Chuck Vosburgh - Thursday, November 10, 2011

I was talking with a new client and he said something that got me thinking; “didn’t other people’s Mothers teach them what my Mom did?”  He was talking about vendors and freelancers in particular. 

According to him, and my observation, Mom’s advice is easy to forget. It’s simple common sense, but in today’s busy world they’re often forgotten and some things just need repeating. I know it was good for me to give it some thought. Here are a few of my favorites:

You are judged by the company you keep. A-List people do business with A-List people. Honest people don’t hang around dishonest people. Good people don’t participate in evil. There’s an old saying that goes like this: If you’re not a duck, don’t hang around the pond or people will think you’re a duck.

A person in front of you is more important than someone who isn’t there. A person calling, texting or e-mailing can wait. Don’t insult someone by taking a call or texting while speaking with them. Of course there are exceptions, in that case ask if it’s okay to take the call. Those exceptions should be rare. This applies to call-waiting also.

Don’t wear out your welcome. Keep your promotional communication to an appropriate level. One really good e-mail a month is better than one mediocre e-mail every day or every week.

There’s a time and place for everything. People who are always “on” and people who are always hawking their services are annoying.

Your word is your bond. In these days of explicit contracts, for every little thing, be a man or woman of your word. If you do, you’ll stand out and people will trust and want to do business with you.

Your reputation is the most valuable thing you have. We’re known by our deeds and your business deeds should be consistent with your personal beliefs and standards.

Knowledge can never be lost or taken away. If you’re reading this, chances are you believe in continuous self-improvement by learning. 

Send a thank-you note. Want to stand out? You’d be surprised how few people do this.

Beware of snakes. You have a gut for a reason, follow it. Chances are it’s right. I can’t think of a single time I’ve gone against my gut and not regretted it.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. Try to be known as someone who always has a level head and reacts calmly.

The fact that most people don’t do these things is a great opportunity to stand out among your competitors.  It’s impossible to do these things all the time. I know I don’t, but I’m trying. I’m glad my Mom hammered these things into my little brain. 

Should You Work for Free?

Chuck Vosburgh - Friday, January 14, 2011

art: http://jessicahische.com

I found this great chart about working for free at http://www.shouldiworkforfree.com/, and it reminded me of what a problem this is for photographers. There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said about working for free, but even after 20+ years and being pretty well established, I still get asked to work for free regularly. The reasoning usually fits into one of three categories:

  • It will give you great exposure
  • It will build your portfolio
  • There will be much more work later

These are all bogus of course, but they do sound convincing when delivered by a slick negotiator. Be strong. Get your own exposure by networking and marketing yourself. Build your portfolio, regardless of the assignments you’re doing. If you network, market, do great work and build a good reputation, you’ll have plenty of work. Remember, your client’s job is to get you to do the most for the least. Your job is to provide a great product for as much as you can get.

I do have a policy for free work, and it’s simple:

  • I’ll do free work for family and close friends. In fact I never charge family and close friends 
  • I’ll do free work IF I have a VERY good reason to

A few thoughts to consider:

  • Your time is limited and has great value
  • What you do has value
  • The fact that your job is enjoyable doesn’t reduce the value of it
  • You can sit at home and not make any money, why work for no money

So, what do you think? How do you handle this issue in your business?

The artist’s web site: http://jessicahische.com

Dealing with rejection

Chuck Vosburgh - Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Model: Gamze Photographer: Chuck Vosburgh

One of the toughest things about being a professional creative person is the rejection that is part of the business. After all, your work is very personal, and in our culture we're conditioned to connect who we are with what we do. So here are a few things to consider next time you are faced with criticism:

1: Leadership attracts criticism, therefore the price of leadership is criticism.
2: In the case of fine art (as opposed to commercial art), you didn't make it for them. You made it for you.
3: In the case of commercial art, you're just providing a service, so do your job the best you can and collect your money. It's not personal, it's work. Use that money to do something great.
4: Some people believe that they could easily do the same thing, but they have better things to do with their time.
5: Other people could do it, but you did, and you should be congratulated for it.
6: 90% of success is showing up.
7: People's pride often gets in the way. Your success reminds them of their personal failures, and they may be jealous of you.
8: Most people really aren't qualified to judge your work.
9: Comparing yourself to others is not wise.

So there you go. Don't let anyone discourage you. Stay the course and keep growing :)

How do you deal with rejection? Share in the comments please...