Paul C. Buff, Legendary Photo Equipment Company Founder, Has Died

Paul C. Buff, Legendary Photo Equipment Company Founder, Has Died

This afternoon, I called Paul C. Buff, Inc. because I had to send in one of my Einstein strobes for repair due to negligent (though expected) airline handling of my lighting gear case. After a few minutes of chatting regarding my busted strobe, I happened onto the Buff website to research some pricing on additional gear I may procure before summer. That's when I saw that he had died, apparently over the weekend. I asked the repair rep what had happened, and we ended up discussing Mr. Buff for a further 25 minutes.

I never met Paul Buff, but I, like so many other photographers, felt like I knew him. If you took even a brief moment to read a little about Paul C. Buff, Inc., you would discover the real Paul Buff was a beautifully kind and charismatic individual, full of color and energy both in his hair and in his amazing history. 

Heck, when I found out Buff had spent ages in music, I grew even closer to him as I spent an inordinate amount of time in the music world as well.

But most of us knew Paul Buff as the bossman of what many will argue is the photography gear company with the absolute best customer service on the planet. Not to mention the best lighting gear for the money, hands down. Never cheap or dismissible, but never overpriced, Buff strobes are used by tens of thousands of photographers of all experience levels across North America.

So, it's with a heavy heart that I have to inform Fstoppers readers that Paul C. Buff has, in fact, died at the age of 78 years old. His obituary, written by his wife Deborah, can be viewed here. The company tells me they will carry on doing business the way Buff insisted, and honor his vision and business practices even though he has passed on.

Much respect, Mr. Buff.

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24 Comments

David Hall's picture

A very sad day indeed.

Peter House's picture

A great loss to the community, but his legacy will live on for a long long time. He was inspirational and a true pioneer.

Truly sad to lose such a dedicated and passionate person. Salute to your life, RIP!

Rest in peace, PCB.

Chris Kennedy's picture

Very sad. Don't know where my photography would be without his products...

Spy Black's picture

Yeah, cool dude, cool products. Quality strobes for the masses at a time when strobes were really expensive (before China, Inc.). I remember the old White Lightning units. Great loss.

What a remarkable man. He was really cut out of a really different mold. I am very sorry we have lost him.

You know - he wrote sometime recently in the tech forum about the next light they were developing - smaller, portable, etc etc and that it would take a while to develop them. I can't help but feel the studio lighting industry has lost it's biggest change agent. He pushed up quality and down prices. I don't know of another major maker of lights that I could simply write to in a forum and he would personally respond and give pretty straight forward answers. One of a kind.

Justin Haugen's picture

He rubbed people the wrong way but I'll be damned if he didn't go point for point against anyone who had something bad to say about his products. I was so impressed with how he stood behind his products and service and he knew them inside and out and was willing to spend so much time discussing them on tech forums.

John Sheehan's picture

Very sad to hear of his passing. RIP.

Nigel Wallace's picture

Absolutely shocked. Was just about to put in an order for an Einstein when I read this. RIP Paul C Buff.

A true ground breaker in an industry of copy cats.

Anonymous's picture

RIP Laup - love my Einstein lights and I learned more about lighting from his forum posts than I knew existed. He seemed so much younger than his age, and we've lost a great innovator and teacher.

Justin Haugen's picture

My first studio style shoot was with 2 AB400's. I got my first two AB800's 11 years ago and I still have them and they're going strong. I've replaced the flash tubes on them both only once and they've been on location outdoors primarily and have survived being knocked over by the wind.

I just got my first 2 Einstein's last year and I know in 11 years they'll still be going strong along with my AB's.

RIP PCB! A whole community is looking back on your life with appreciation and admiration.

Kateryna Akhmadeeva's picture

A truly sad day for the photographic community to lose such an amazing pioneer and human being. All of my studio gear consists of only Buff products. Love the products & customer service of this company.

Jozef Povazan's picture

A man to remember. You shared a talent with photographers which will not be forgotten, you helped to create amazing images and you allowed it to happen without breaking starting photographers bank accounts. KUDOS TO YOU and enjoy the peace. My first Einstein set arrived yesterday, what a day to remember. THANK YOU.

Lloyd Grace's picture

I have been a fan of Paul's and a purchaser of his products since the Valley People Gain Brain/Kepex (1980) audio days to my Alien Bees, PLM's, and countless modifiers and accessories today. He was doing the same thing in the Pro Audio industry in the 70's & 80's as he was in the Photo business now. It is extremely sad to see one of the last of that breed leave us. His innovation, marketing and customer service philosophies aren't shared by many in this day and age. He will be sorely missed.

Sad day indeed. True Pioneer who stood for his values. RIP Laup.

I share the sentiment - but it's Luap

Anonymous's picture

Huge loss. The lighting industry wouldn't be where it is today were it not for his company disrupting the trend of over-priced mediocrity. Everyone who uses a monolight today benefits from a good chunk of Paul C Buff's innovations.

jonas y's picture

RIP. I love his creations.

It's always sad when someone dies, and my deep condolences go out to his family. But as for the company... Perhaps the specs were good but the build quality and design were god awful.

Thank you Paul Buff. Your positive influence on me and many photographers extend well beyond your great inventions, products and service. Though I never met your personally, It feels like I lost a friend with your passing.

I'm so saddened to hear of Paul's death and want to express my heartfelt sympathy to his family, customers and many, many friends. Paul was an icon, an institution, a visionary, a teacher and a true leader in the field of photographic lighting. His entire career was marked by generosity, kindness and integrity. I am comforted knowing his tradition of excellence will be carried on by his surviving family and staff.