Archivi categoria: blairbunting

Photo Myth Busters: Recreating a Crazy Photo Idea from Top Gun

Remember in the movie Top Gun, when Goose and Maverick go canopy to canopy with a Russian jet, and Goose snaps that Polaroid? Advertising photographer Blair Bunting wanted to find out if it was possible… so he convinced a jet team to let him try it.

First things first, here’s the scene in case you haven’t seen it or don’t remember it:

Bunting teamed up with fellow photographers Jaron Schneider and Toby Harriman of Planet Unicorn Productions and the Patriots Jet Team from Byron, California to find out if a shot like this was (a) even possible and (b) if it would have turned out.

What started as a napkin drawing and a bit of fun speculation between photographers (and a pilot) was about to become a real life photo shoot.

Commercial Photographer Blair Bunting

Of course, the fantasy that was this photo shoot and the reality of pulling it off were two very different things.

“The preparation that had taken place before [the shot] was … immense,” explains Blair on his blog. “I had spent hours laying upside down off the side of my bed in my hotel room the night before so that I could learn how the camera operated while inverted. I went to the gym six days a week and exercised with a trainer that helped me build my endurance while being on top of my hick breathing to stay conscious. For an hour before we got in the jets I went through neck exercises to see if I could loosen it up enough to look behind myself more or less. All of this work boiled down to a shot that still would be 90% luck.”

And the prep was just the beginning, the strain of being in these L-39 Albatross training jets without a G-suit on and pulling Gs while hand-holding a Hasselblad H6D with a 35-90mm lens attached was immense.

“My body was getting destroyed at a rate that no gym workout could compare to,” describes Blair. “Don’t get me wrong, I was having fun, but I was in an immense amount of pain. This was apparent after we landed and saw that the capillaries of my shoulder had exploded from the pressure.”

Advertising Photographer Blair Bunting re-creates Top Gun

30 minutes into the flight, they began setting up this photo over and over again. Blair’s jet would roll inverted at an altitude of 500ft, and then the second jet would inch up closer and closer while Blair called out positioning to his pilot.

“I would call ‘forward, forward, forward,’ and I could see the pilot below as he slowly dialed his plane faster all while looking me right in the eye,” describes Blair. “It was one of the more surreal moments I have ever been in.”

When the jet was in position, Blair would set his lens flat against the canopy above (or in this case below) him and fire off as many shots as he could before the special tanks that allow the plane to fly inverted ran out of juice. This, over and over again, a crushing workout all to find out if the shot was possible.

So… was it? It turns out it was:

Advertising Photographer Blair Bunting re-creates Top Gun

On one of those passes, Blair got the shot he was looking for and proved that, while Goose probably didn’t get anything, he could have.

“Looking back on it, I am overwhelmed and grateful,” concludes Blair. “To all the incredible people that put in so much time, effort and money, just to see if something drawn on a napkin was possible, I am eternally grateful.”

Check out the full adventure in the video at the top, and then, for an in-depth Behind the Scenes look at how the video shoot of the photo shoot came together, head over to Planet Unicorn Productions.

Image credit: All photographs by Blair Bunting and used with permission.

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.