Student Success: Charles Vaughn

By Michelle Ecker on January 2 2019

Student Success : Charles Vaughn
Charles Vaughn always had an interest in taking photos, but after he got his first real DSLR, he was totally hooked. After enrolling in a New York Institute of Photography course, he discovered his passion for deeper concepts like direction of light and depth of field.
Now a graduate of NYIP, he makes time for photography nearly every day in addition to working his fulltime job. He has won contests, international photo journeys, and had his pictures featured in some of the world’s most popular photography publications. Not only that, you will often find his work showcased in the Image City Gallery. We had the opportunity to chat with Charles about his time at NYIP, his advice for our current students, and his plans for the future. Here’s what we learned:

1. When did you realize that photography was the field you wanted to pursue?

I have always had an interest in taking pictures, but when I got my first DSLR I was hooked.

2. When did you enroll at NYIP?

After getting the DSLR I knew I needed help, not only with the camera but with composing images. That is where NYIP came in. I also found a mentor to help.

Student Success : Charles Vaughn

3. What was your coursework like?

When I first started, I spent every minute with the material. I eventually slowed down because I was not absorbing as much as I wanted. Some of the material I thought I did not need, but studied it anyway to have a rounded grasp of every aspect of photography.

4. Was your mentor helpful during the process?.

My mentor with NYIP was excellent. She was very honest with critiques & helpful when I needed.

Student Success : Charles Vaughn

5. What type of work are you doing now?

I have stayed an advanced amateur photographer who loves landscape & wildlife photography.

6. Tell us about your Life in the Finger Lakes cover!

I submitted some images to a regional magazine in 2011 & was lucky enough to be given the cover of the winter 2012 magazine. It was a thrill. Here is a link.

I also had two of my images in Outdoor Photographer Magazine.

I also show in a local photography gallery a couple of times a year.

Student Success : Charles Vaughn

7. Is there a specific genre of photography you particularly favor?

Landscape photography is my favorite type of photography.

8. How do you find new clients and advertise the work you do?

I have sent images to magazines. I also enter juried shows & have a Flickr account.

9. What qualities do you think a successful, aspiring photographer needs?

I would say an interest in learning. Being willing to get up early for great light. Being good with people would be very helpful for portrait work.

10. What do you always carry with you in your camera bag?

In my camera bag I always have my camera of course, wide angle, telephoto & macro lenses. I also have a polarizer & cable release. Lens cloth, extra batteries, SD cards & a flashlight are also in there. While not in my camera bag I almost always have a tripod with me.

Student Success : Charles Vaughn

11. What’s the most interesting thing you learned at NYIP?

I think learning about depth of field & the way direction of light impacts your images were game changers.

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12. If you had to pick one, what was the most memorable photography project you’ve ever completed or show you’ve ever shot?

My most memorable photography project was a trip I won to Churchill Canada through Outdoor Photographer Magazine to photograph polar bears. The trip was with Natural Habitat Adventures. We spent 3 days on the tundra in a tundra buggy looking for bears. The trip was geared for photography so the group was small. We would stop & take as much time as we wanted to photograph the bears. That was where I got the image for the magazine.

13. Describe a workday in your life as a photographer.

Being that I still work full time (not as a photographer) I still try to get out as much as I can. I get up before sunrise so I can get to my location before the sun comes up. When I get home, I download my images & then back them up to 2 other hard drives. If I have time I start to edit. All images are shot in raw & almost always bracket my shots.

Student Success : Charles Vaughn

14. What’s the most rewarding part of studying photography?

The most rewarding part of studying photography is that I now see things in the world different. I see nature in a way I never saw before, such as great sunsets & sunrises. I see light in a completely different way.

15. What subject is usually your favorite to shoot?

Landscapes are top of the list. Love shooting waterfalls, especially right after a rain or during a light rain.

16. If you could give one simple piece of advice to our current and prospective students, what would it be?

Don’t worry about what camera you are using, but learn how to use it. Pay attention to the light & your composition. Get out and shoot. Take the course & find a mentor.

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