Chuck Vosburgh, a veteran commercial photographer, discusses style and career.
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As another follow up to the article I wrote aboutfinding your own photographic style, Chuck Vosburgh offers his experience and sheds some light on how his style has influenced his work as a commercial photographer.
How have you developed your style and continue to do so?
My style developed partly from responding to clients' needs and partly from works that I personally like. I think it's vital to continue learning from masters of the craft. I remember when I joined the Tampa Area Professional Photographers Association, I discovered a whole new level of work that I didn't even know existed! Learning from the people in that group took my work and my career to the next level where I felt comfortable competing for work on a national level.
Where does your vision and/or your inspiration come from?
For commercial work, the art director or photo editor usually has a concept, then we collaborate to make his or her concept the best it can be. Sometimes, completely new ideas come from the collaboration and that's when it's the most exciting! In cases where I am responsible for the concept, I rely on my library of images that I've saved for inspiration. Looking through them will usually spark an idea that can be built on. For portraits, I've been heavily influenced by Dutch painters Rembrandt, Vermeer and others. The influence of their work finds its way into any portrait work I do.
How has developing such a strong style benefited you or held you back?
My motto has always been"if it's legal, moral and not a wedding I'll shoot it". That said, one thing I learned very early on is that you can't do everything. For example, I don't do weddings or babies. It's just not my thing, and likewise I don't know any wedding or baby photographers who do commercial work. It is a good idea to be able to have a bit of a range of style since many of my clients have come to me with something specific in mind.
Any advice for other photographers who are struggling to find a voice?
Don't obsess about it! It will develop on its own over time. I recommend finding someone whose work you admire and follow their lead. That will provide a foundation that you can expand on and make your own. None of us have invented our styles. Everything is an extension of those before us.I am certain that most if not all of the masters that I admire will say the same.
And any other thoughts or feelings you may have on the topic.
Remember we're providing a service. Service demands being flexible and understanding that not every single piece you do will be a portfolio piece. I know that goes against what some say, but I have 30 years of earning a nice living and it's worked for me. I've frequently asked clients why they chose me. There are plenty of talented photographers to choose from and without exception they all had basically the same answers: None of them mentioned the quality of my work. Excellent work is expected and it's the minimum requirement to be chosen. No one mentioned equipment for the same reason. All of them said it was that they knew I'd show up, come through for them and be pleasant to work with. It's just that simple. I've built my career on the promise that I will show up and get the job done no matter what and it will look great.
Chuck Vosburgh did his first paid and published work in 1984 and earned his PPA Certified Professional Photographer in 2014. He has been fortunate enough to have been awarded many honors over the years and loves to teach. You can see Chuck's work atwww.ChuckVosburgh.comand on his blog,www.LightingIsEasy.com. Chuck recently released a new online course titledHow to sell photography without becoming a salesmanwhere he condenses his 30+ years of sales and business experience down to a series of ten-minute lessons covering everything you need to know to be successful. You can learn more about it atvosburghphoto.com.