Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Blair Bunting: Boy Wonder
Young photographer Blair Bunting is wise beyond his years
“I got called,” recalls Bunting. “Discovery had seen my work and they asked if I’d shoot the campaign for a show called Future Weapons. Their first request wasn’t tentative. It was, ‘Blair has to shoot this; when can he shoot this?’ So I went out to Roswell, New Mexico, and spent a week shooting that, and they liked it and asked if I would shoot Deadliest Catch. I literally had gotten home from Deadliest Catch for three days when they said, ‘Hey, will you fly out to San Francisco and shoot Mythbusters?’ They’re a strong client. They have a lot of trust in me.”
Deadliest Catch and Mythbusters are two of the highest-rated shows on cable, and the Discovery Channel promotes them well. Bunting has been shooting Deadliest Catch’s Alaskan crab fishermen for three years. It all has led to more work, professional acclaim and personal growth. But it wasn’t easy.
“The first two years, I flew out to Dutch Harbor,” he says. “We weren’t really able to bring gear because it’s very hard to land on the island. To tell you how hard it is, two years ago my grip and one of my assistants, their plane got delayed for 11½ days. There’s nothing on the island. It’s dirt roads. There’s no Wal-Mart, no fast food, no nothing. It’s a very different kind of environment. My agent and I said that I wouldn’t go more than 100 yards offshore because it’s very choppy, and even standing on some of the boats where we shot, tied at the dock, the wake alone will make me seasick. It’s very violent. It’s not a comfortable environment.”
Bunting’s story is particularly inspiring because it has worked the way it’s supposed to work. He didn’t get his first gig because of nepotism or blind luck. He created such a great portfolio that even as a college kid he defied the odds and wowed agencies and earned great jobs. By his senior year, he was skipping classes to shoot ad campaigns, all thanks to the merit of his work. Then came his big break: television..For an image of deckhand Josh on the Cornelia Marie, Bunting didn’t have his typically expansive lighting kit. He worked with portable strobes and makeshift light modifiers due in large part to the remote locale.
“That was from the second year,” he says of the image. “That’s SB-900s being held by art directors and custom softboxes from Photoflex made for this shoot. Three SB-900s at most; you can’t put anything on that plane.
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