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Posts tagged ‘Blair Bunting’

The Idiot in the Elevator

The end of the year is always a mad rush to wrap campaigns and spend out remanning budgets which has left me little time to write lately, and for that I apologize. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with so many people that I can call friends as much as clients. It is a necessity in this career to enjoy working with those around you, not just for professionalism, but for sanity.

I spent last week in Denver with a group of people that made me feel as though I was on vacation. We laughed more than worked and somehow got the shots we needed without ever feeling like it was a job. It was a shoot that really made me appreciate the opportunities that this field has, whether that be experiences or conversations. Today’s short but hopefully enjoyable blog came from something that happened to me on the final morning in Denver…

(a quick warning… if by some chance you have read these blogs and view me as “cool,” today’s blog is not for you. It is an accurate portrayal of how socially awkward I can be, especially when I am wiped out from being on the road.)

So there I was, disheveled and running on autopilot. I had just gotten my order from the Starbucks in the hotel lobby where I was staying. Sadly, it wasn’t even that early, I was just mentally and physically wiped out from a photoshoot. Nonetheless, ham sandwich and chai latte in hand I was heading back to my room to eat and get ready for what the final day at the studio had to offer.

A quick aside to the guys reading this blog… by nature, we want to look cool when in front of the opposite sex. Whether it is dressed to the nines or casual but witty, I promise you that I represented neither of these options. My hair showed the world that I had slept well on one side of my head and the clothes I wore represented amongst the finest collection that I could find on the floor with my eyes barely open.

I pressed the up arrow on the elevator bank in the lobby and in due time my elevator arrived. I got in and pushed 10 and prepared for a casual private elevator ride to my room.

As the doors closed, out of no where a girl gets on the elevator. She was mid twenties and had a southern accent, and attractive. All I could think was, “shit, she probably thinks I’m homeless, perhaps my 8am wit will make her think I’m cool.” (please understand, I love my wife, I just hate people seeing how much I can look like a Walking Dead extra in the morning).

And then things went from bad to freaking catastrophe….

I asked her what floor she was on, for I was standing next to the buttons. She said, “9 please”. Any other time, I would have just thought, she said 9, I’ll hit the 9 button. However, this morning, I was not so competent, whether it was that I misheard her or that I couldn’t see strait, I hit 6…… f#^@ing 6!

And then it got worse…

I didn’t realize my stupidity until she said, “no, 9.” … Now at this point any sane person would hit the number 9 and apologize for the inconvenience. Not me. No this idiot tried to play it off with the smooth move of, ok, I’ll use my elbow as I have my breakfast and drink occupying my hands. Calmly I leaned over and hit floor number 9 with my elbow, and then the horror, I had hit 8 as well.

True panic overcame me as I realized my mistake and the fact that this kind soft spoken girl was going to be delayed by not one, but two floors because of some asshole. My mind when into disaster mode, what do I say? what do I say? what do I say…….. and then I said the only thing that came to mind.

“I’m married.”

What in green hell does that mean!?!?!!? It was the essence of all my social awkwardness in three beautiful syllables. Still, to this day I can’t even figure out the train of thought that my mind followed to come up with that one.

I thought of just getting off the elevator at the sixth floor and ending the nightmare early, but I took it like a man and stayed on. I didn’t make eye contact with her, but when the door opened for 6, I had a brief chuckle at my stupidity.

I hope you all enjoyed a good laugh at my expense, for I am the idiot in the elevator.

In the Mo Bro Spotlight

If you have been participating in Movember, good news, there is only nine days that your soup straining, crumb catching porn stache has to reside on that precious real-estate known as your face.

This year I have been reluctant to post picture of the atrocity under my nose, it is just too bad. In 1970 this thing may have got me laid, but in modern days it should most likely get me arrested. Look at every news report of some creepy guy with yellow sunglasses and a predator mustache and I look like his twin. ugh.

Fortunately there is a bright side to this hideous facial hair, it and its cause Movember has led to many conversations this year with friends and strangers alike. From physical to mental health, I have had the good fortune to share stories and talk to people around the world that are going through the same journey.

However, the month is not done yet… Movember has taken notice and published an interview I did with them a few weeks ago. If you have a few minutes, head over to their site and have a read, maybe learn something about your’s truly.

 

Stuff You Should Know (Movember Edition)

It is no secret that I am addicted to the podcast Stuff You Should Know. The amount of time that I spend on a plane listening to the banter of Josh and Chuck probably not in the realm of healthy. However, today’s post is all about healthy, more specifically mentally healthy.

If you read my post two weeks ago, you know that I have had my fun with mental health stuff. A quick story if you will….

While some people know about the River Monsters photoshoot that I was fortunate enough to do that subsequently won in Comm Arts and Archive, what they don’t know was to what degree it affected me. To say I was nervous in an understatement. I went through a very extreme anxiety attack on the way to the set. Now we’re not talking about “Blair had the case of the jitters”, I was at one point unconscious as I had fainted in the passenger seat. My assistant and best friend Mike was driving. He knows how I am about shoots and knew not to worry and to just get me to the location. When I get on set, I can turn it off (or hide it) in a way that it focuses me on the lighting and subject to an extreme that I couldn’t get any other way.

Story aside, today I wanted to give everyone some fun listening material, via Stuff You Should Know, that talks about all type of mental health stuff in a fun, yet informative way. I have picked out some specific ones that go along with Movember’s theme so that you can have a listen and maybe learn something that changes your life:

Maybe you learn something about yourself, or about someone close to you that might help. Worst case scenario, you don’t find that you or someone close to you has one of these disorders and you can be mad at me for now being more educated on it.

Running on Faith

If there is one part of my career that I could say that I have let myself down in, it would be not shooting enough editorial projects.

For many years all I shot was editorial, and I loved it. However the lure of high dollar advertising work was too much and I started turning down work in the editorial world to focus more on ad campaigns. In a sense I had sold my photographic soul to the devil. I will admit it, I made a mistake.

I had forgotten about the fun experiences, incredible opportunities and most importantly, I  had forgotten about the people one meets while on editorial assignments. This is not to say that ad work doesn’t introduce me to some very interesting people, it’s just that the barrier of entry limits the number that you will meet.

Runner Alicia Shay

Fast forward to a couple months back and Shape Magazine called me to see if I would be willing to do a photoshoot of a runner in Flagstaff, AZ. At the time Scottsdale was going through a heat wave, so I thought, “why not?” and drove the 2 hours to Flagstaff with my assistant.

Upon stepping out of the car in Flagstaff we immediately rejoiced in the 20 degree cooler temperature along with the large evergreen trees all around us… it was beautiful.

I rang the doorbell to a cute little house on a hill and was met by our subject, Alicia Shay. After a quick discussion of wardrobe for the shoot, we got in my car and the three of us headed to a nearby mountain preserve where she often does trail running. The location was absolutely stunning, I found myself going for a walk more than looking for the photo opportunities. To tell you how distracted I was by the landscape, we got to a spot that we decided to shoot our first shot at only for me to have forgotten the cables to the strobes in the car (almost a half mile away). Rather than transport all the gear back with us to the car, my assistant said he would run to the car and grab the cables while I set stuff up at the location.

While getting gear out of the cases I began talking to Alicia about her career as a runner and about her life. She told me about how she fell in love with running, and how it was an extension of who she is. It was a very romantic view of a sport that conveyed true passion and dedication. She had gone to college on a running scholarship and was expected to compete for the USA at the Beijing olympics in the 10,000 meter race. Running was her life, so it was only appropriate that it had her heart as well, as she met her husband while competing in college for he was a runner too. They got married only four months before the Olympic trials in New York where he was competing to qualify for the marathon race in Beijing.

Standing on the course, waiting for him to run by, the world as she knew it would disappear. Her husband Ryan collapsed only six miles into the competition. Although taken immediately to the hospital, he did not make it.

I froze as she told me this. I tried to act as if I was completely engaged to the conversation, but the truth is that inside I was heart broken for her. She was calm and continued on about what happened in the months and years that followed. Her passion for running slowly went away as it reminded her too much of him, until one day she stopped running. Injuries forced her out of the Olympic trials, and she was left to only watch them on tv.

As time went by, the idea of returning to running grew and Alicia began to run the trails of the mountains in Flagstaff. At this point in the conversation the clouds broke and the sun hit the mountain we had both been looking at. I made the comment that the trail where we were at was beautiful and extremely peaceful. She said it was a place where she is at peace. I knew that it was a place where he was with her.

It was a day that left me speechless and in admiration of the strength that Alicia has. I knew that the image we got was strong, but truly feel that seeing the will of human spirit that she has will mean more than anything. I left Flagstaff humbled and grateful for taking that assignment.

The Nikon D750

I never thought I would be writing this blog… We all know I love me some Nikon, but that which is loved is usually of the pro body form. Be it the D3x or D4s, I am a big fan of Nikons with a built in vertical grip. From time to time I do shoot with the D810 and other such bodies, but my preference tend to lean towards camera bodies that look like a square box head on.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I got a call from my good friends at Nikon that said, “hey, you should try the D750 out, we really think you’ll like it.” I agreed to give it a shot, but in complete honesty thought it was going to be small for my tastes and wondered what the catch would be.

Three weeks later and I am obsessed with this camera, she’s (yes, my D750 is a female camera, just haven’t named her yet) even gone to her very first photoshoot. While I used some other bodies on the actual production, I found that I am rediscovering my love of photography in this lil camera.

For starters, I don’t shoot it in a conventional way whatsoever. I used my right thumb to fire the shutter and turn off the autofocus on all my lenses that I mount to it. Often letting the camera force me to look at it very reminiscent to how I viewed old Hasselblads. This D750 has changed my view of photography in a way similar to the D3 the first time I saw its dynamic range.

Of all the functions that I dig about it, none are more freeing than the wifi. Yes, I know that there have been other cameras that have built in wifi, but this is my first experience with one. It is for that reason that I have turned the D750 into my dedicated Instagram camera. I couldn’t even tell you if it has a memory card in it right now as I only grab the files with my phone and then post them straight to Instagram. So with that said, enjoy some square pics from this not so square camera and while you’re at it go check one out.

Thunderbirds D750

D750 grass

Riley

D750 me

Thunderbirds loop

Nikon D750

 

 

Mental Health . . . (this isn’t going to be easy)

As photographers, writers, illustrators, actors, musicians …. As creatives, we create the world that we exist in, we create the world that the rest of the world sees.

This is a gift, it is our gift and it is the soul of the saying that we “are gifted.” While many are brought up to view doctors and lawyers as having greater intellectual prowess, the truth of the matter is that it takes a VERY strong mind to visualize and then create our art.

What happens when that mind turns against us?

We have seen what can happen all to often in stories like the suicide of Robin Williams only a few months ago. He was an incredible comedian and a good man tortured secretly by the very mind that the world celebrated for its whit and talent.

Now it is at this point that the author tries to distance his or herself from the cause but offer a solution usually with a statement like, “I knew a person that went through yadda yadda yadda.” Why is this? … Because it is taboo to be honest, and all to often people worry about being seen in a bad light if admitting to something of this sort. You deserve more, by reading this alone you have given me time that I have not deserved and I would like to be brutally honest with the hopes that someone reading this is helped.

I know someone that has gone through mental health struggles….. ME

It is a deeply personal and extremely (understatement) terrifying experience. If I had to quit this career in exchange of one person not going through it, I would in a heartbeat.

In the time since I experienced it, I have had the incredible fortune to talk to many great artists and non-artists alike that have quietly gone through the same exact thing (anxiety and panic attacks). This tells me that there is a very good chance that some of you reading this have gone or will go through it. There are two very important things that I want you to know, things that I wish I had known or had the ability to understand when I was in a bad way.

  1. This is the most important one….. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!! Right here, you have found a friend that has gone through it. Had those thoughts that we only think crazy people have, experienced the desperation and loss for explanation as to what is happening.
  2. Going through mental health struggles is NOT a weakness. In no way does it mean that your mind is weak, if anything it means that your mind is STRONGER than many others around. It means that you have the ability to form situations that do not exist in reality, and the emotional strength to be captivated by them. In many ways it is a gift to have the strength of mind to lose your mind.
  3. I want you to know that those around you care about you dearly. It is hard to convince yourself of this, but it is absolute truth. You matter, and no amount of self imposed isolation will change this.

It was on set for a photoshoot that I had a very long conversation with Adam Garone, the co-founder CEO of the Movember Foundationthe global organization changing the face of men’s health. We talked about how important it was for men to talk openly about mental health. Unfortunately this often is hidden for fear of being outcast when there is a chance that the guy sitting across the table has gone through the very same thing. We are quick to complain about feeling weak from a sore muscle or injury, but hide condition of where our heads at?

Photographers: I love you guys. I want nothing but the best for you. Let’s be honest with each other… not necessarily in such a public forum, but on a one to one basis. We all have close friends in the industry that we talk to about work, camera gear, techniques…. why can’t we talk to them about mental health?

The most important person in this long journey is YOU.

Movember is Near

For all you men and a couple of women I guess, the time to grow that stache is quickly approaching us. Yes, I am talking about Movember.

Last year many of us grew staches and raised money for friends, family members and strangers alike with the goal of raising awareness of men’s health. Whether you are raising money or just talking about the cause, you are helping us as a society move forward. It means a ton to every person that has gone through the battle or may in the future.

I am proud to announce that for the second year in a row I will be captaining the Maurice Lacroix US (Mo’Rice Lacroix to be cheeky) team in our quest to raise awareness and money for men’s health. Like last year, we will also be awarding a limited edition Maurice Lacroix timepiece to the guy or gal that raises the most on our team (look for a blog and details on that in the future).

So head on over to Movember’s site and join us. Also, stay tuned to this blog as I will be making some posts about the causes we are fighting for throughout the month.

Giving Back

Of all the gifts and opportunities that we as photographers will experience through our careers, none are more important than the opportunity to help someone else out. From teaching others your craft to using your talent to enrich someone else’s life, there is no downside to giving back.

One such opportunity presented itself about a month ago when I got a phone call from the man that owns the studio I shoot out of, Floyd Bannister. A little background on Floyd… He is one of the most humble men I have ever met. On many occasions I have come to him with clients that were charity based organizations and he has let me shoot without asking for anything in return. When we produced the entire Fstoppers video of the Lamborghini photoshoot, he again told me that he was grateful I chose Loft 19 and that it was on him. I have had shoots where athletes have been in bad moods upon arrival and he sat me down and told me to not worry and that the situation would calm down and then I should shoot. It is for this and many reasons that I see him as a bit of a father figure in this industry.

Back to the phone call… He said that he was sponsoring a very small college’s football team. Many of the players on the team and students at the school were the first members of their family to even attend college. He then asked if there was any chance that we could give them a photoshoot to make the guys feel like rock stars and make their sense of accomplishment even greater. Without hesitation I said “yes.”

I began calling assistants and telling them that we had a shoot for Floyd and every single one of them immediately said they wanted to help. Incredible people, every one of them. I told them all to bring their gear to the set for I also saw this as an opportunity to teach.

The day of the shoot, we all showed up and began producing images and an environment that saw many of the players calling their parents to tell them what was going on. I was able to also start giving the camera over to my assistants and letting them gain experience on a set that isn’t possible in a big time shoot where a campaign is on the line. To say that this was a perfect day for me is an understatement.

We were able to help out a man that we all like, a group of kids feel important from the experience, and my crew gets to take turns shooting while I assist them.

It was a good day.

I want to thank Andrew to doing a behind the scenes on the shoot and all the guys on my crew that made this possible.

Bb: LowePro Ambassador

I will admit right now, every time I write a title like this or the Nikon, or Maurice Lacroix ambassador one, I sit back and think…. “you know, people are going to stop asking me to grab a beer with them if I keep this stuff up.”

Please know that, like the other endorsements, it means the world to me to have a company that I know and trust show such support. I can’t say much, but will say this… there are some VERY exciting things that will come out of this relationship. When LowePro approached me about becoming a LoweProfessional, one aspect that was discussed at length was, “how can we use this partnership to help people out?” From raising money for charities to helping educate photographers on how I go about my work, I wanted to make sure it was a contract that helped me give back to the community above all. Blair_Bunting_Bio_main

It’s an odd reality to be a part of and I find myself honored to experience it, but also missing what things were like before. To be honest, some of my favorite shoots I have ever done were the small editorial gigs where I didn’t make all that much and came home tired. Unfortunately, the calls for those go away when photo editors fear that they are wasting my time calling, and so such sponsorships have an averse affect.

It’s a part of this career that I never saw coming. I used to sit on the internet looking at who was with what company and think, “damn it would be awesome to be in his or her place.” However, it was impossible to see that said achievement would make people hesitate to reach out and ask for advice like, how I lit a specific photo or what gear I used.

To have fun and try to pay it back to you (my readers/friends) I have started calling random Twitter and Facebook followers every week to say “hi” and ask if they had any questions… (on a side note, the calls have been freaking awesome and I plan to keep on doing them when I have breaks in my schedule).

You guys are the reason great companies like LowePro have reached out to me, and I want to say not only thank you, but please don’t ever feel that I am in a different league and therefore am inaccessible… I am one of you and always will be. So whether it be Facebook, Twitter or Smoke Signal (the OG social media), please feel free to ask advice on cameras, watches, bags… heck, ask what I had for dinner, I really don’t mind.

The iPhone is NOT for Photographers

Part of understanding is the ability to admit when one is wrong. Here and now I need to admit that I was wrong.

I have always been a big fan of Apple. It began as a child when I was brainwashed into loving the company by my parents. You see, my Mom and Dad were both teachers. In the early 80’s my father taught computers at a community college. He loved how Apple as a company supported educators so much that he wanted to give back to them. So when they became publicly available, he would use his bonuses to purchase stock in the company… not to make money, but to support education. By now some of you have added things up, and yes, the stock purchased over the years is worth a bit more. However, when you’re in for a penny, you’re in for a pound. As a family we have made the decision that the money will always be with Apple, as they supported and continue to support education.

I hope that this gives you an idea to my relationship with Apple.

In October 2011, I purchased the iPhone 4s for two reasons. The first was in memory of Steve Jobs, who I believe to be one of the greatest inventors of our time (I called it my iPhone 4Steve). The second reason was to see if this phone was a legit shooter for photographers.

If you have followed the blog long enough, you know that I was smitten by the phone and its ease of use / always in your pocket aspect. I would walk around taking photos every day with it and then would sit there on Camera+ or Snapseed editing away. It was at this time that Apple reached out to me, and I had the privilege of speaking for them about the greatness of their products, one of those being the iPhone.

As time went on the I replaced my 4s with a 5s. While I enjoy the phone, the blinded love affair with it has passed, and reality has set in. I am not saying that I don’t like the phone anymore, but rather the pedestal that I once held it on has changed.

The iPhone is a great camera for a phone, but it is NOT a great camera.

We as a society have become giddy with the idea that we are carrying around a professional camera in our pockets, after all, Apple shot the iPhone commercial with it. Never had this disillusion been more evident than in a recent meeting with a client. When faced with estimates that lay before them, a large company’s marketing director looked at the agency’s creative director and me and said, “Why do we need to pay for all this expensive camera gear? Can’t we just shoot it with an iPhone? I mean, that’s what Apple does.” I was at a loss for words (as was every creative and art director in the room).

After thinking long and hard about it, I believe that we have be disillusioned by our very own disillusions.

So what is the iPhone? In my opinion is it our generation’s Polaroid. Shooting and posting pictures to our modern refrigerator door… Facebook. Does this mean that it is a bad camera? No. It is just not a professional camera.

Like the Polaroid, approach to an iPhone rests in the quantitative at the cost of quality. Can you print a large print from an iPhone, not really. Will it ever fight the quality of even the 4/3rd sensors… again no. It is simply the camera you always have… but in situations of great importance, it is not the camera you want. If your end use is showing the world through social media, the iPhones will handle the job, but shall you ever need to print look to a proper camera.

There are workarounds to making prints with an iPhone, whether it be adding textures or imperfections to hide artifacting. However, if you are really going to shoot something and use Photoshop to edit it, perhaps using a camera to photograph it would lend more dignity to the piece as a whole.

The iPhone has made photography more popular and accessible than ever, but really hasn’t advanced it. Time will tell if it can convert the masses into proper camera carrying photographers. However, one thing is for sure. The iPhone has given us eyes into private experiences that might never have been seen. Be it a celebrity’s private life, or a battle in a war, a beautiful sunset or a once in a lifetime experience… it is the camera that we will always have.