September 2017 Member of the Month
Blair BuntingSeptember 1, 2017
Blair Bunting’s career began when his father sat down with him to teach him about photography. At the time, Blair was in high school and was taking a photography class, however, he developed a passion for the medium and so his father gifted him his very first camera: a 1972 Nikon F. The camera still sits on Blair’s desk at home to remind him of the humble beginnings of his career.
Today, Blair has the good fortune of shooting campaigns around the globe for a diverse list of clients from television shows to athletes. In August of 2008, he decided to try his hand at photographing automobiles, not out of a quest for work, but in an attempt to create some images to put on his walls. The images caught the attention of Chevrolet and he shot a campaign for them not two months later.
Often describing his own life as “quite a random existence,” many of his accomplishments have come outside of the photographic field itself. From being chosen as the honorary commander of a US Air Force fighter squadron to being recognized as an ambassador in the watch industry, his life has been anything but ordinary. However, he will always consider his greatest honor to be that of marrying his wife, Erin. Here we interview the renowned photographer as he accepts his latest accolade: PhotoServe Member of the Month.
Peter Berberian: What made you decide you wanted to be a photographer?
Blair Bunting: When I was in high school, I found that I rather enjoyed my photography course. Deep inside I had always had a view of the world I wanted to express, but unfortunately for me I couldn’t draw or paint. However, I found my outlet in photography.
PB: Is there a photograph you loved as a kid or an event that pushed you into being a photographer?
BB: There wasn’t necessarily an event, but rather an appreciation. I was shown a video of Richard Avedon working in studio and immediately said, “that’s what I want to do.” I don’t know if it was the calm, yet deliberate, way he spoke or his visual brilliance that captivated me first. When the video was over, I set my camera up on a tripod with lights and started photographing my friends. I was 16.
PB: What do you primarily photograph?
BB: I primarily photograph professional athletes and celebrities for advertising campaigns. Periodically I photography a car or jet as a way to relax, but time to take on such personal projects has been a bit limited lately.
PB: Do you do anything before a shoot to prepare yourself?
BB: I am meticulous planner. With photo shoots that have energy and action, there is also sometimes the element of danger (especially when combining tons of lights with water like we did with River Monsters). From drawing out the lighting diagrams to gear prep, I like to take on as much of my prep as possible. For shoots that see me on the road for weeks, I also have a diet and exercise regimen to guarantee that I am not tired on set, as the client deserves me to be sharp.
PB: What is your favorite set up (camera/lens) to shoot with?
BB: My favorite camera / lens combo is my Hasselblad H6D-100c with the 35mm-90mm HCD lens. I am a bit biased as I am an ambassador for Hasselblad, but accolades aside, I would still be using the same kit.
PB: Who are your greatest influences in the art world?
BB: My greatest influence in the photography world comes from the photojournalists covering dangerous conflicts the world abroad. Many of them often risking their own safety and lives, all to tell a visual story. It is a form of photography that I don’t have the inner strength to do, however, it is the genre of this medium that I believe deserves the most credit.
PB: What is your favorite photography quote?
BB: I genuinely don’t know any photography quotes off the top of my head. I guess my eye has always focused on the images other photographers have created, and not the words that accompanied them.
PB: Who are your three favorite photographers?
PB: What is your favorite personal pic you have taken?
BB: My favorite personal picture I have taken was done a couple years ago. It is the Formula 1 race car that was driven by my hero, Michael Schumacher. The photo shoot itself came weeks after he had suffered a serious skiing accident that left him in a coma. In a way, the photo shoot was a tribute to the inspiration I took from his legacy.
PB: What is your favorite photo that you have taken?
BB: There are a couple:
River Monsters – This was a challenging photo shoot that I did all while quietly going through a panic attack. The result was my first win in the Comm Arts Photo Annual and my first Archive Top 200 Ad Photographers in the world.
Deadliest Catch – I had the good fortune to photograph the show’s print ads for a number of years. There is a lot of great content that came out of it. The one that means the most is a portrait I did of the late Captain Phil on the deck of the Cornelia Marie. It was a stoic portrait of a man that I had become friends with over the years. Unbeknownst to me, it was also the last time I would ever see him as he passed away a few months later. The family contacted me and told me that Phil always loved the image and asked if they could put it on his grave’s headstone. It was an honor and a moment I will always hold dear.
– Communication Arts: Photo Annual
– Luerzer’s Archive: Top 200 Ad Photographers
– Emmy Nomination
– Graphis: Advertising Annual
– William Randolph Hearst award
– Gitzo / Manfrotto