Where's your place for inspiration?

We all have favorite places…right? Places that either has good memories or places that we go to think and have our personal quite time. Always find the place that gives you strength, hope and makes you smile. When you do, feel blessed…..because you are.

One place, the Clinton Lake boat docks, is one for me, it had such special memories with a person you love, that passed away (4/21/2014), that no matter how old you become,  you will always return to it....to remember, to find strength and to honor them.


The other is a place that is quite place where you can be by yourself, a place to get away from all noise and hub-bub of life. A place to enjoy the simple things in life like a beautiful sunset. 



Always find those places in life, honor them and pull strength from them

Regardless of budget, everyone deserves respect, good work and good end product.


How do you shoot a location based portrait and stand in the middle of a bridge? Regardless if it’s for a business, a publication or a family type of portrait why should you care? 

When doing a portrait you always must look at the situation and use the appropriate tools to get the shot. If you have time, and a willing subject, you try to find a cool location that plays opposite of what they do and where they work. In this case Miles was open to spending a little time at a location. I could have shot him at his home studio or somewhere doing a gig or in a little club but really, what fun would that be? This was for a weekly publication called “The Pitch” in KC. One of those weekly arts and entertainment publications. 

It was late in the afternoon in Kansas City when this was shot. The light was going low and there was very front light for his face. This is a classic example of needing to light. Yes, a photographer could shoot wide open at high ISO (film speed) and blow out the background and not light but the location makes the shot. It’s always about the light you have then the light you need to make.

This is a bridge with an upper deck, a lower deck and the ground under the bridge. By choosing the lower deck you get some diffused light to start with and from there you build the light. So, how is it set up. You use the natural light as an overall light source then here I used two wireless flashes (Olympus flashes) to light Miles from the front. He was nice enough to drive to couple of locations, so this was all about speed but at the same time getting a good looking shot.

Here’s a quick diagram below with the finished shot.

So you're thinking, "Chuck, that's cool but why should I care? I'm not a magazine or publication." Here's the deal. Regardless of use and regardless of your budget everybody deserves the same attention, the same respect and the same delivery of a good end product. 

Portraits for you biz, family, friends or loved ones...give me a buzz.




How to - Time-Lapse on your smartphone


So, a few of you not familiar with how to do time lapses here you go. This is for iPhone folks but really the same applies to any phone.

There's various apps to do a time lapse. On iOS "Lapse It" is a nice $1.99 app but I tend to use the native camera app. Yep, your native camera has a time lapse feature also. You'll notice I have a telephoto lens attached to the camera. Unless you have extra lenses the one on your camera is fine. The lens is from Moment. If you want one check out: www.momentlens.co

1. Make sure your phone is fully charged and you have some space on your phone.

2. Open up "Camera" Notice the slider at the bottom? Slide it to the far left and you will see Time-Lapse.

3. Make sure you have the phone stabilized somehow. A tripod, propping it up on something...whatever. Just make sure it's secured without movement. I use a tripod and a little thing called "Reti-Cam" to put the phone on the tripod. Many different options, message me if you need help deciding what to get. 

4. Tap and hold your finger on the a screen wherever you want focus and hold down until you see a large yellow box. The box will go from small to large size. Once you done this you've  locked focus. Still keep the finger down and you will notice a little yellow slider the right of the box with a "sun"icon. This is where you can lock exposure. Simply move the slider to what looks good THEN let off the screen. Now you're locked and loaded.

At the top of screen you will see "AE/AF Lock"

5. Press the little red button and grab a seat, read a book, talk to friends, do your laundry...whatever. The longer it goes the longer the time lapse. Once done just go to your camera album and you've got a time lapse.

6. Have fun and enjoy everyone. Any questions you're always welcome to find me on Facebook or Twitter  and I'll try to help.




Know when to capture a moment with a camera and when to just live in the moment.


It’s photo school time.

So does this work?

Let’s make a checklist:

Good lead line: check. You let your eyes go off the edge into the unknown…yep I framed it that way for a reason.

Differences in the color palette: check. That red coupled with the blue water evokes all kinds of emotions. Pretty cool and clever…huh?

Does it further evoke an emotion? Sure the emotion of adventure…sailing off into the unknown. Makes you want to hop in the boat..yes?

Did I capture the real moment? NOPE…this is an epic fail of ridiculous proportions.

Sometimes, actually most of the time, the moment isn’t the damn shot. It’s what’s all around you to make a moment and a memory. Cause more than likely you’re. missing it all just for a what you think is a clever snap. It’s not about a damn piece of film, a digital sensor, a lens, a viewfinder, etc. As photographers we spend a lifetime thinking we’re so smart by getting those moments when in reality we are not..we are perhaps more blind than most. I can name many of these. kind of shots where in reality the camera should have been down or at least used for another kind of shot.

Once you put down the camera and simply use your memory, you realize the truth. There is a famous quote that is the truth about cameras and. photography. The quote is by Dorothea Lange and it is my most favorite photo quote. “The camera is an instrument that teaches people to see without a camera.” So before we all think we’re all so damn clever ask yourself, what moment did I really get and what moment did I really miss?

Find me @:

Twitter: chuckfrance

Instagram: chuckfrance

If the shot's in your head.....shot it.

People tend to think I'm this in the moment photographer and to some extent that's true. In this case it was not. A fisheye rarely works. I literally have only used a fisheye once in my life and it was this shot. I saw this shot in my head months before I snapped it and my employer at the time used it for years. Always trust your gut and if see that shot in your head....it will happen.  True story.




Blue on South Street

Don't Wait To Tell Your Stories

It was Tuesday February 3rd  later in the afternoon and I had just walked out of Noona's cafe on South street in Springfield. I heard this sound coming from across the street. It was the sound of music, a fierce blues harmonica cutting thru the air. I looked over and saw this man sitting on a bench in front of Finnegan's Wak playing his harp. 

I'm a big blues fan. I've had the pleasure twice in my life to see the great blues harp player Charlie Musselwhite perform. Those sounds coming from across the street that day...I was blown away. At first I just walked on and went back to my car but then decided to grab my camera bag and stroll back to this man. I came upon him and he had just finished up playing in the afternoon and was getting ready to pack up and leave. For you see, Ron "Dr. Spit" Alexander played music wherever and whenever he could get a chance. He would sit on this bench and wail during the day making small change and bills from the folks passing by and take paying gigs whenever he could. He was an artist thru and thru. 

I spent about 15 minutes with this man and knew immediately he was a good person and well liked. As we were talking, people that walked by would stop to talk or say hi to "Dr Spit." He had told me he came from Omaha Nebraska in hopes of landing good gig in Branson and the area. He was a fine man. I explained to him I was a photographer and would he mind if I took a few pictures of him. He was more than happy to pose for a few shots for me. We talked of working together on a photo doc/essay project on him. Kind of what it's like to be Dr. Spit piece. 

I caught up with him again in April but this time I had made a print of him to drop by, as a token of thanks for his time. He knew exactly who I was and I was surprised. After all, how many people passes by this man each day? It was like catching up with an old friend, we talked for a bit and exchanged phone numbers to get started soon on the photo essay.  Unfortunately, Ron passed away in May the day right after the great BB King died. You can say, yeah but BB King made it big, and this guy struggled with playing on the street. I say this guy made it big because all the love and joy he brought to countless people on South Street in Springfield Missouri. He made people happy and smile by doing what he loved to do. He was an absolute success. Here's his Facebook page for those of you who are interested. Dr. Spit and the Blues Mechanic

I only took a few shots of Dr. Spit that day and had previously only shown one but here is the series. Always, always know that people come into your life for reason.  Don't wait to tell your stories.

Thanks Ron, it was a pleasure knowing you.

Thank you University of Kansas!

Change is a very powerful thing.

I started my job here at The University of Kansas on my birthday, September 10th, a little over six years ago. At the time I was freelancing but there were changes happening in my life, I was going thru an upheaval. I went thru a divorce, fell in love with someone that later passed away and along the way met some truly amazing people. For those of you still in my life, I thank you and for those of you not here, I thank you.  Some changes were happy ones, while others could be described as sad, or as I would say, challenging but full of reward and love. A rollercoaster for sure. One thing over the years I could always count on to keep stability in my life was my job at Kansas.

So, I started this career at KU in a time of flux but over the years I have had the honor of meeting some wonderful people. I watched students come and go, professors do research/education that changes lives and changes the world and met staff, that without them, this campus would not run smoothly nor would it exist. I believe no job is too small and no job is too big. No one job is more important than another, we're all in this life together. I've had co-workers, directly in this office, that have been supportive, loving and kind. Those of you that are no longer in this office....I miss you very much and thank you for allowing me to work with you over the years. I was HONORED to work with you.

I've had the privilege to witness some magical moments. Sometimes I would record them with the camera and many times I would just pause and watch the moment unfold. You see, being a photographer, you tune into moments and some moments need no recording. Those type of moments are kept in your memory forever.  I keep many memories of this place and the people with me as I embark upon a fulltime freelance career.

Please stay in touch, follow my journey and I'll follow yours. I always say in order of importance, family, friends then job.  Friends for life, everyone.

I have many photographers I admire but I leave you with a quote from one of my favorites, David Alan Harvey:  "Don't shoot what it looks like, shoot what it feels like."

I hope, in some small way, my work made you feel.

It was privilege to work with all of you and a privilege to work for The University of Kansas. Rock Chalk Jayhawk....THANK YOU!!

Gratitude should always be the attitude

Isn't it funny how things work out? Today is my last day at KU and I hop on my scale. On July 22nd of this year I made a special promise to get healthy, take care of myself and stay around this place for the people that love me. My life has truly changed for the better....it's amazing. You must take care of yourself, to love yourself, so you can truly take care of the people you love.

I've gone from 234.8 lbs to just over 200 lbs in 6 months but getting under 200 seemed elusive..until today. The last time I was under 200 lbs I was 20!

I'm so grateful and blessed to have people that love me and want me healthy. Looks like you all are stuck with me!! It's cool to remember our past, to honor it and learn from it. The past is a place to visit but it's not our address. Change can be very good. 

Much thanks and much love...... ‪#‎thepromise‬ ‪#‎PIC‬ ‪#‎gratitude‬

The last assignment as Chief Photographer for The University of Kansas

When I decided to leave my staff job as Chief Photographer at The University of Kansas I wanted my last assignment to be a basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse. This historic and storied place is absolutely the best play to watch a college game in the country. We have the loudest arena and certainly the best fans, young and old. Here is a slideshow of just a few selects from my last assignment. I HAD to get a shot with two of my photographer colleagues! Thanks guys!  

Although I have staff cameras available there was no way I wasn't going to shoot this on my personal Olympus cameras. I been using Olympus for many years and I'm excited to go freelance full time and shoot them exclusively everyday. The last shot from my job was historic Allen Fieldhouse. Rock Chalk Jayhawk....thank you KU!!!


Thanks Potter Lake

Little know fact, when I wanted time to be reflective, some time to myself,  those silent type of moments to really think about big life decisions, I would head towards Potter Lake. One of the most beautiful places on campus is away from all the hustle and bustle of Jayhawk Blvd. I would walk around, with my camera, always finding just a handful people. Many times not even taking a photo but just enjoying the moment and the spirit of the place. A few other folks feel the same way. Thanks Potter Lake for allowing me to be part of your magic.

What's your favorite photo?

Photos are wonderful things. They can evoke a bunch of emotions. They can make us smile, cry, laugh, feel a deep sense of connection and they give us memories that just make us happy.

I'm not talking about photos that "technically" perfect or photos that considered "masterpieces" or famous work. I'm talking about the photos that just make you feel good. Those ones that when you look at it or hold it in your hand it brings back beautiful memories. 

One of those photos for me is the one below. Me, a dork with big glasses, and this cute chubby little baby....my brother, Ben. When getting photos done my folks would always drag me to Olan Mills in Springfield, Missouri. You know, one of those places with big fake backdrops. I have a shot of myself in my junior high basketball uniform sitting on a fake rock in the middle of the woods. Cause, you know, that's what all kids do when they're in their basketball uniform.  I wanted a brother or sister so bad and my parents didn't think it would ever happen again, the chances were slim that Mom could have another baby. Then, it happened, my brother was born. I remember sitting at Olan Mills with my new brother thinking.....this is cool being here at Olan Mills. I hope we get to do this again!!

What is a photo that has deep meaning to you? Feel free to post in the comments  below. I would love to see your photos!

Much love, everyone.

The 3 C's of Life

Family, friends, the people I love and co-workers: announcement time.

So, as someone who observes, someone who witnesses moments, gets the privilege to either record those moments or just be in them there are some photos from The University of Kansas that I'm proud of. The two below are recent shots but there are others over the course of 6 years here.

You see folks, when all is good in the world personally with me that's when my photography shines. For my job, here at KU, it's putting on headphones, walking down the boulevard and just being in the moments. You sorta zone out to zone in. Many times, those moments have deep meaning personally for me. Both photos below have a common theme, it is hope, faith, trust, taking a chance, living life, a willingness to "go for it" as it were.

The first shot of the couple sitting next to the Campanile was a moment that I will never forget. I was walking around and decided to veer off the beaten the path, to get away from the boulevard. I noticed a couple walking towards me, talking but kind of a few feet away from each other. They were nervous, they were guarded...you could tell it was all new to them. I watched them walk past me and settle in at that bench. I kept away watching them talk, laugh and get closer together. When they were done they walked past me but this time very close together. It was like before my eyes they had become best friends...buddies...pals. That's always the best way to start something. You have to be best friends. I knew that they would be just fine.

The second picture, although looks lonely, I find it to be full of hope. I was walking, it was a time between classes when hardly anyone is outside but I noticed this one guy, skateboard in hand walking towards a building...our Art and Design building. Being an artist, a painter, a sculptor, a photographer is a scary thing to do in life. It takes courage to rise up and choose a different path. That shot is not someone walking away from something, it's someone walking towards something. I've always thought, "Here's this young kid, walking towards this place where he belongs..having the courage to try." I remember thinking, "yeah...courage."

I've thought about both of these photos a lot lately.

Yesterday I gave notice and resigned my job as Chief Photographer at KU. I'm going to pursue a full time career as a freelance photographer and film production professional. I'll be here for a short period of time, then I'm moving out of the area. I would like to say to my co-workers and friends here at KU, and those co-workers who are no longer with us in this office, that I will miss you....and thank you for the time spent.

Since late July this year I decided to make some big changes. Things just stared to click in my life. I made a promise to the people I love and to a very special person to get healthy and lose weight (today I'm 35 lbs down!). I decided to stop mourning, living in the past and letting the bad things in life that happened to weigh me down. I decided to open myself up, stop with the cynicism and just let life unfold and it has been soooo wonderful. My life has truly changed and I am thankful and grateful for every moment. Thankful and grateful for the people in my life that I love and who love me..all of you new and old. After many years I've actually been back to church a couple of times and look forward to those Sundays again, soon. Faith is a funny thing, it's always buried deep inside you but eventually it will find its' way out and comes to the surface. For that I am also grateful.

The things that matter most in the life, family, friends, people we love, the career we want, etc. sometimes require not just words, not just the talking but the action behind it. The best things in life or certainly the things that have the best potential require action. Life is short and can be gone in an instant, so live every moment like it was your last.

How does that little saying go? "You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change."


I have a couple of signs hanging up at my place. I believe them both wholeheartedly. One says, "Live Well, Love Much, Smile Often" The other says, "Life is not measured by the number breaths we take, but the moments that take our breath away."

I hope everyone smiles today and has a moment that takes your breath away. Much love.