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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Blair Bunting: Boy Wonder

Young photographer Blair Bunting is wise beyond his years

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Even when you’re on top of your game, with agency clients clamoring to work with you, you’re not immune to a recession. Blair Bunting is definitely a world-class talent in high demand, a master of lighting who creates dramatic portraits of athletes and celebrities, but even he has suffered the economic slowdown.

“I went from May of last year to January,” he says, “eight months without a shoot. We have these Creative Connects, where all these creatives get together—how’s everything going, yadda, yadda, yadda. And there was one guy, in particular, who was always like, ‘Oh, man, I’m slammed.’ I’m sitting there the entire time not shooting. So finally I pulled him aside and said, ‘Really, how’s it going?’ He was like, ‘I haven’t worked in months.’ It broke spirits. That’s why I usually won’t tell anyone when I’m busy.”

Starting With Sun Devils
With Bunting’s combination of interpersonal and photographic talent, it’s easy to see why he’s such a success. At the ripe old age of 26, he has created a blossoming advertising career with a client list to make any seasoned photographer envious. He can trace it all back to his time as an undergrad at Arizona State University, even to a single photograph that started it all.

A test shot of a football player—made for fun because the athlete also wanted to learn about lighting—led to a major corporate sponsor putting $100,000 behind a poster series of ASU athletes. It’s a series Bunting continues to shoot to this day.

“That’s an account I’ve held since I was 19 years old,” he says. “We’ve never had one year where they said, ‘Let’s do this.’ Every single year they’ve said, ‘What do you want to do?’ This year I was kind of getting sick of everything on black, so I asked to shoot it all on white. They said, ‘Yeah, we’ll change everything around for it.”

So Bunting made this year’s ASU football photos on a white background. What didn’t change, though, is Bunting’s drama-filled lighting style. He achieves this almost exclusively through meticulous placement of many sources. A shot of a basketball player with a spray of water? Seventeen lights. An angry-looking football player? Ten or so. Some photographers use lots of lights to put on a show for clients. Self-taught Bunting does it because it’s the best way he knows to create the look he wants.


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