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Finding Lost Portraits from Deadliest Catch, or: The Importance of Extra Backups

The Deadliest Catch photographed by Blair Bunting

There will always be photo shoots that test your creativity, and sometimes there are campaigns that seem to just give you incredible images. Deadliest Catch is definitely a campaign that lends its hand to stunning visuals… at the cost of your comfort.

The moment you get onto the plane from Anchorage to Dutch Harbor, the idea that this is going to be a rough environment is immediately present. The other passengers on the plane look rough for wear and are most likely on one of the fishing boats that are about to depart into the unforgiving Bering Sea.

Only having been there for a couple of weeks total, I know that I have met my quota, but will always appreciate the times I had. It is for this reason that I was heartbroken when the hard drive with my images went missing many years ago. Of all the shooting I did, I was left to only the images I had on my site (four total) to represent my time on that God forsaken island… or so I had thought.

The Deadliest Catch photographed by Blair Bunting

In the process of moving into our new place, there were tons of people carrying boxes to the different rooms of the house. It is an effort of futility to get the stuff to the correct room, but it proved fruitful. Misplaced in the boxes for the master bathroom (yes, bathroom) was a SanDisk flash drive. If you have ever had the moment where you find a flash drive and are excited to see what treasures reside on it, you know the feeling I had.

This drive was the jackpot of lost drives for me…

You see, I have a process that goes into my photo shoots that extends beyond when I leave the set all the way to getting home from the flight. I backup the cards to my computer and then from there put them on an external drive that goes in the camera case. However, on photo shoots where my camera case might have to be checked, I also put the images on a flash drive and mail that drive to myself insured for $1,000 because this guarantees they will not lose it.

The Deadliest Catch photographed by Blair Bunting

Now, as has always been the case, my camera and hard drive return home safely and I work off them for the edits. However, with the Deadliest Catch campaign, I sent the hard drive home with the good people from Discovery. I used the files I had from the CF cards themselves, and then reformatted them for another campaign… forgetting to back them up to the computer.

For years I could picture the images in my mind, but could not show you what we created on the crab boats of Dutch Harbor… until now.

The Deadliest Catch photographed by Blair Bunting

In that serendipitous moment of misplaced moving items sat a flash drive… the flash drive. It was the one I had mailed to myself from Anchorage before getting on my flight home, only to misplace it when prepping to fly out for another photo shoot.

So here are them images I wanted to show you for so many years, I hope they were worth the wait.

The Deadliest Catch photographed by Blair Bunting

Most importantly, I found the original image I shot of Phil (above), a good friend that always held my seat at the table and a good man.

About the author: Blair Bunting is a commercial advertising photographer based out of Phoenix, Arizona. You can see more of his work and connect with him through his website, blog, and Twitter. This article was also published here.

Way Beyond the Deadline: Shooting ASU Football’s Ad Campaign


There are deadlines and then there are deadlines… this is the latter.

Arizona State University’s advertising campaign is one that I have now shot for 10 years. It is one that I always use to push the logistical boundaries that I had previously been inflexible towards, for the sake of art and knowledge. Photographing it is a practice in embracing the unknown and evaluating previously conceived notions of what is possible and what is not. This year’s photoshoot existed well within the impossible…

ASU advertising campaign photographed by Advertising Photographer Blair Bunting

For example, I usually shoot the ASU campaign the last week of May and deliver the images on deadline, August 1st. This way the designers at ASU can create layouts and posters, billboards and ticket stubs and all that’s in between in the the two weeks before press deadline (Aug 14th).

However, this year was different, for ASU was in the midst of changing from Nike uniforms to Adidas. We knew going into April that this shoot could be a bit tighter on the deadline than usual. As May began, I already had laid out the images for the campaign and had my crew on stand-by on a moments notice if we needed to be at the studio. However, the new uniforms were not ready and so we found ourselves waiting…

And then came June… and then went June.

ASU advertising campaign photographed by Advertising Photographer Blair Bunting

It was looking like an impossible deadline at this point, for where I normally have 60 days for production, I would now have half.

And then went July.

There comes a moment, at which one must release true control of a situation, and this was it. Any ideas that I had of a production schedule had to be let go. In a sense, if this campaign happened at all, it would be a very visceral knowledge of the process that would take over and one that only experience could teach.

ASU advertising campaign photographed by Advertising Photographer Blair Bunting

August 1st: The deadline of the many campaigns of year’s past had arrived and passed. For me, it was a simple glass of scotch that evening and a comfort that only a purchase of a time machine (found on eBay) would make this one possible.

August 15th: The call arrived saying that we would shoot in three days — yeah, August 18th — and we might be limited on the jerseys for the guys to wear (oh the understatement). However, if there is one thing that I have learned about ASU, it is that their athletes are incredible and even the toughest challenges are easier with how much they help out on set.

ASU advertising campaign photographed by Advertising Photographer Blair Bunting

August 18th: The first day of the shoot had arrived and the crew that had been on standby for most of the summer for this one were ready. Even though we were months behind schedule, everyone was happy, for we knew what we had to do and knew that it could be a good time as well.

As the guys showed up to the studio, the wardrobe arrived as well. We had 10 athletes to photograph and 1… one… yes one, pair of pants. Now we had that one pair in maroon and black, so technically thats two. However, you may say, “Blair, I thought ASU wears gold pants on occasion” and you would be correct.

Worry not, we had a pair of gold pants as well… with one minor caveat. You see, the only pair of Adidas football pants that existed in gold belonged to the ASU mascot Sparky. For those of you that don’t know him, he is a devil that runs around the field and does push ups. The big issue is that Sparky has a tail. Some of you have figured out where this is going, and yes, the only pair of gold pants we had had a hole in the rear for his tail.


Remember, photoshoots will always make you stronger and more resourceful for the next one.

So we shot for two days on set and had final images being delivered even when we showed up for day two. Here’s a behind-the-scenes video of the photo shoot:

The reason it all happened is quite simple, incredible people. From crew to client to talent to retouching, everyone involved on this project didn’t worry about deadline, they just worried about doing their best and staying positive.

As much as being an advertising photographer is about being in control of a production, the true talent of one is measured when control is given up.

About the author: Blair Bunting is a commercial advertising photographer based out of Phoenix, Arizona. You can see more of his work and connect with him through his website, blog, and Twitter. This article was also published here.

Editorial: Photographer Blair Bunting on the Importance of Mental Health

Blair Bunting Movember

A personal story with an important message

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) which tells me that there is a very good chance that some of you reading this have 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 to know 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, that 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 Foundation the global organization changing the face of men’s health. We talked about how important it was for men to talk openly about mental health, however 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.

This article originally appeared here

Blair Bunting Movember
Photo by: Popular Photography Magazine Editor

Blair Bunting Movember

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