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Posts tagged ‘Blair Bunting’

Formula 1 is upon us…

Days are all that separate us from those sweet sweet screaming cars known to the French as Formule Un.

For me it means waking up at all odd hours of the night, only to watch a race that will most likely lead to my inability to return to bed upon its completion. But it is worth every bit of lost sleep, every nervous foot tap and every lap I walk around my living room waiting for the safety car to dive into the pits.

You see, while I enjoy going to a bar with friends to have a beer and watch a football game, I really don’t have an affinity to the sport. Perhaps it is why I can do my job without distraction.

Michael Schumacher

Be it a football, baseball or basketball player, my conversations are always the same. I don’t ask them about the last game they played, because that is what they expect and will put them into auto-pilot on set. Instead, I ask them all the exact same thing, “what video game are you currently playing?”

I have yet to have an athlete not engage and get excited by this question. It tells them two things:

  1. I am a geek that also still spends way too much time trying to beat Far Cry.
  2. I am not the person that wants an autograph.

Look at that, somehow I was able to turn a blog about Formula 1 into photo advice… I am actually surprised by this as well.

Now in case you were wondering…  No, I have never photographed an F1 driver. I am pretty sure that my conversation with one would go something like, “OMG OMG OMG”…. and faint.

As always, Sempre Ferrari and Keep Fighting Michael.

Bb shoots… Fashion???

Like many, if not all, other photographers, I enjoy the the vast amount of avenues in our medium. Be it photojournalism, table top, macro, etc., I really appreciate what so many other photographers do, and celebrate their successes as much as my own. Unfortunately, I don’t get called to shoot these types of photography, because I haven’t shot them. Let’s be honest, it’s best to stick with someone who has a background in creating an image for the needed situation. But what happens when a client gives you carte blanche on a campaign…. and then asks you to star in it?

This was the case for the LowePro Echelon photoshoot.

LowePro Echelon

So what does a photographer, who is actually quite shy, do when faced with a campaign about himself? … I hired a model that was much better looking than me. No need for me to create beautiful images only to screw them up with my nerdy face in all the shots. From there I started to really think about what appealed to me for the campaign, at least from a stylistic standpoint. While I could shoot it with all the lights in the world (what I am more commonly known for), I felt this was an opportunity to pay homage to a style of photography I love… fashion. More specifically the hard lit Italian type usually seen in black & white.

LowePro Echelon

I love the simplicity of fashion along with the freedom derived from its philosophy. It is the essence of expression’s hand being lent completely to art. It is beauty.

Enough waxing poetic… let’s talk approach.

I decided that I would approach this campaign in two directions. One would see me in front of the camera in a lifestyle feeling image. I felt that this would satisfy the needs of LowePro to have their spokesman’s face on a few images to promote with. The second part would be the fashion shots.

LowePro Echelon

For the fashion images, I decided a tribute to the late 80’s black & white fashion would be cool, but wanted to add my own approach in making them a split color and kicking a couple more lights in than was normal. I wanted the emotion to be confident, but not cocky, and the styling to feel accomplished, but subdued to match the bag line.

I gave my good friends at Maurice Lacroix a phone call, and a day later we had their entire line on hand to grace the model’s wrists. Not to mention, it gave me a chance to wear the Gravity, a watch that I tried to buy and was not even able to get my hands on before it sold out!!!

LowePro Echelon

Next up I talked to Nikon to get some extra camera gear for the shoot, not only to shoot with, but to use in the images. We felt that when it came to true style, the Df fit the roll perfectly. Along with that, they sent me the D4s and the 58 f/1.4 (both of which I ended up buying after using on this shoot).

 

This campaign really means a lot to me, not only for the images, but for the experience. It was a celebration of what I am fortunate enough to do for a living, and along side me stood the friends that I stand next to in the biggest of shoots. I hope that you enjoy the images as much as I enjoyed creating them for you.

Thank you.

Echelon

Sometimes the phone rings and the conversation that awaits you is not one that you could have ever expected… This was the case for me last May.

On the other end was the marketing director for LowePro. While I have talked with him many times, the conversation that awaited me was quite surreal. He said plane and simple, “we have made you a bag line.”

Now if he would have said that they made me a bag, I would have lost my mind at how cool that was, but a bag line!?!?!?  I think my only response was, “thank you, but I just don’t deserve this.” I feel that things like this, and some other endorsements, are at a constant battle in my mind telling me that I am much cooler than I am. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful for it all, but damn, I have long since passed the point where thank you can say enough. No amount of gratitude that I can type about or express in person will ever describe how much you (my friends and family) and my sponsors mean to me…. A genuine and heartfelt THANK YOU.

Now onto the bag….. LINE (yes, even I chuckle inside when I think about it)

Now when I first thought of a bag line, I thought okay, maybe they have a couple of backpacks or roller bags that I need to take some photos with. This was not the case, far far far from it. On a conference call with the marketing and design teams, they described the ultimate bag. Now when I say ultimate, I mean, “hey, we spared NO expense and made a bag to show what a company can do when they want to show off.” For the car guys out there, here is the analogy that best describes it… Many car makers made a one of a kind car for the Geneva Auto Show as an example of what is possible. It is a car that will likely never be sold or driven on the road, but rather an exercise in art and design at its finest.

The phone call continued… the bag (which I already thought was the greatest photo bag ever) had some friends it wanted to bring to the party. One called the Attache and the other the Laptop, both of which were top of the line in ever single detail. Throughout the presentation one word was used more than any other… Luxury.

It was very obvious that what they were describing to me was a collection of bags that showed the essence of what a large company like LowePro could do if they so desired. The pieces were the strongest, most beautiful bags I had ever seen, and more importantly, they were understated. Even the logos on the outside of them had all color removed, as to not draw unwanted attention. After all, the truest form of luxury and accomplishment is not having to boast about it.

In the early stages it was questioned if the bags could even be produced en mass. We knew that the costs would put them very much at the all time top for camera bags, but that was less the issue, it was actually making them that would be tough. With hand stitched leather and a single piece tub, these bags would stretch the resources of even a company like LowePro.

Fast forward a couple months and the phone rang again. It was LowePro calling to tell me that my bag line had been produced. Due to the sheer costs and the level of the bags, only 400 had been made. To me, this was the rare chance to purchase the unicorn of the camera bag market. I was ecstatic when they told me that they were giving me a set. However, when it arrived last week, I immediately called them and purchased a second set, because damn are they incredible. I thought that in production there would be small little details lost from the prototypes I had, but this was not the case, they were and are the pinnacle of design for a camera bag.

So without further adieu, I present to you the greatest camera bags I have ever seen….. ECHELON

LowePro Echelon

Shooting the Super Bowl Commercial

When I began photography as a career, I often wondered what it would be like to do certain kinds of campaigns. Of these, I did wonder what it would be like to shoot a Super Bowl commercial. I imagined crazy sets where people barked orders down the line of command and the photographer or director in the center of it all, only being bugged when it is of dire importance.

The idea of this was something that existed in my mind and may indeed exist in real life. However, the reality that hit me when I was awarded this campaign was that I could determine what a set for a Super Bowl commercial looked like. On my set, we would have fun, and my assistants would be just as important as I was. We (my client, my crew and I) would relax and trust that true art would result.

There will always be photographers that feel entitled to scream at everyone on their set, but it is up to us (the photogs reading this) to not be one of them. Instead, treat your crew and clients as friends, and you will find that at the end of the day you will be able to share a beer with your friends and forget about work.

So with that said, here is the behind the scenes video from a Super Bowl spot made by a bunch of friends….

I would like to thank Andrew Belcher for taking the time to create this. Great job man!

The Super Bowl Commercial

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would begin 2015 shooting a Super Bowl commercial. Even further removed from the unlikeliness of shooting said commercial is … well… shooting said commercial in seven images. Not seven scenarios or seven videos, seven photos.

The idea, straight from the mind of Pete over at LaneTerralever, was to parallax a commercial. “What is parallax” you say? Think of when you were in grade school and you had to do one of those cheesy plays where every parent in the audience thinks that his or her child should be in search of a talent agency because they memorized 23 words and did not faint on stage. Sorry, got distracted there. Anyway, there is always a part in that play where some kid is on a boat made of a tricycle and cardboard, and they are in the rough ocean. In order to create this imaginary ocean in the elementary school cafeteria, they use whats called parallax. This is where they have on set of blue waves on a stick in front of the kid and one behind. The movement of these waves back and forth creates in your mind the idea of the ocean.

When broken down to its most basic form, we decided that we would create a Super Bowl spot using the cardboard waves on a stick principal. From there it gets exponentially more complicated.

Super Bowl parallax farmer

In order to captivate the viewer, the images had to be real, and they had to be very very very planned out. In order to have movement in an image where it never existed, we would need to plan space for the movement to enter and direction to make it natural. Also, we would have to shoot the shot, and then immediately document the reality that existed as we would need to create it and maintain its continuity to keep the viewer’s attention.

Super Bowl parallax scrap yard

The first thing that grabs the eye of the viewer in these shots would be depth, more specifically how three dimensional they feel. To help with this there was one lens that came to mind, the Nikkor 58 f/1.4. While many try to see it as a low light geared lens, it also has a little trick in it that makes it very desirable. It makes images feel 3-D.

Super Bowl parallax basketball

The next item of importance was the camera, the Nikon D4s. Now many of you probably know that my heart resides with the D3x, but for this project resolution was not the determining factor. After all 4k video is still only 8.8 megapixels. What mattered more to us was noise and high ISO performance as we would not be in a studio and environment would matter greatly.

Super Bowl parallax wine

Last, but not least, we would need lights that could be remote and enable us to shoot shallow, even in the day. Enter the Profoto B1’s. With the most recent firmware, they are able to shoot at any shutter speed. Proof of this rests in the above image of the man drinking wine. It was shot at 1/4000th of a second.

Super Bowl parallax instructor

With the gear of this shoot chosen specifically to produce the images, we started going to the businesses where the subjects worked and tried to quickly see what a day in their life felt like and create an image on the spot that would capture that, as well as captivate the audience. Some were easier than others. For example, ballet, which is an art form in itself, is very simple to create beauty from. However, shots like the farmer we worried would be more complicated. It was when we started meeting the individuals that would be featured in the images that we found the beauty of this commercial.

Super Bowl parallax ballet

What the technical side (the depth and movement into a frozen world) showed us was the beauty that existed in the moment. As one viewer told me, “it was as if the moment existed inside of my television for a split second.” As we shot more for the campaign, we learned and dialed in more in our approach. By the final image we were able to see the images that existed and how they would look and feel before we ever pressed the shutter.

As always, but more than ever, I want to thank the people that made this commercial possible and helped me as I tried to learn and dial in this approach.

Joe, Paul, Pete, Carolyn, Gary, Tena, Nick, Trevor, Andrew and Rob. I love you guys and am grateful to have stood beside you as we created this one.

Thank you.

Pinterest… whatever that is

So it is a new year and a fresh start… on another social media outlet that I know nothing about.

We have spent the last 3 weeks shooting a Super Bowl commercial, only interrupted by a quick stay in the hospital when my temperature decided it wan’t to see what the 104’s were like. A side note on that… they suck. All the cool stories we heard as kids about severe hallucinations were bunk. I was hoping that being in such a dire state would have at least landed me the ability to see people that weren’t there in my hallucinations, but no, all I saw were a bunch of different colored spots flying around the room.

But back to the topic at hand, Pinterest. While on set, I have been in conversations on multiple occasions that were usually preceded with, “so on Pinterest I saw…” Which got me thinking, okay, maybe should I try this out. After all, my New Years resolution was to look at social media less.

Then came the fun moment of truth where I went to select my url for my Pinterest page, only to find out that “BlairBunting” had been taken. I will admit, I was a bit bummed, and figured it was someone with the same name that got there first….. nope. It was another photographer (not named Blair Bunting) in India that was trying to use my name…. AND IMAGES to get himself some work. As you can imagine, this didn’t settle well with me… I had two glasses of wine instead of the usual one. In all honesty, I had a really good laugh at the fact that someone felt I was cool enough to impersonate… Bucket list… check

After a quick call with the very nice people at Pinterest, they resolved things and got me my name for my url. (a hit tip to them) So now here I am, writing a blog about a Pinterest page that I have done nothing with, but will soon… while the new website is being finished ;-)  (and that, my friends, is what they call a cliffhanger)

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.