Q & A With Blair Phillips Photography

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While growing up, there was no opportunity in Blair Phillips’ household for future advancement; no further education after high school, no parenting, and definitely no dreams of a flourishing career. Between multiple family households and parents, his childhood life was a constant roller-coaster. After living with his paternal grandparents for a significant time period, who both passed away when he was a junior in high school, Blair had to finish educating himself through high school. He worked 40 hours a week at a local grocery store while finishing his senior year in high school. Finances were so bad that even senior pictures were not an option and most of his time off was spent juggling work and school, having no social life as a normal teenager.

Reason for the short story above is to give you an idea of where the motivation and creativity comes from in Blair’s images. Blair’s business began 8 short years ago and since then, Blair Phillips Photography has become a household name that people in his community, and from several states away, have come to know and adore. Each year Blair has photograph between 40-60 weddings and 600+ studio sessions. In a small, economically deprives mill town of 3,100 and before the age of 30, accomplishment is an understatement!

Photographers are hungry for Blair’s creative eye behind the lens. Blair is known for his innovative lighting, posing, and flow of imagery, which has been a topic of conversation sparked between both novice and seasoned photographers. He has a passion to teach other photographers how to express themselves in ways not found in traditional training, which has been described as eclectic elegance. His style and positive energy is devoted to educate and inspire photographers to move towards a modern, fashionable approach, while keeping true to themselves.  Because of his sought-after content and unique teaching style, Blair has had the opportunity to educate photographers all over the United States including 4 consecutive years at WPPI, The WPPI Road Trip, WPPI U, SPA, SYNC Seniors, various state PPA affiliations and most recently, Imaging USA. Blair also hosts a quarterly workshop entitled “Break The Mold” at his Landis, NC studio which has become increasingly popular, selling out with every event.

Blair Phillips has so much to offer fellow photographers. Blair has a sincere desire to see other photographers inspired to grow in business as he has. Blair has a young team who strive towards fresh ideas, and those who hear them will be inspired to break out of their mold. Blair doesn’t want to teach people his way, but rather inspire everyone and have them discover what it means to break out of the mold to a more fashionable tomorrow.

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Blair and Suzanne Phillips

Tamrac: How did you get into photography?
Blair: Blind luck.  I have always been a very visual type individual, and it all began when I started carrying a point and shoot camera with me everywhere.  I would see neat and intriguing things that I felt were worthy of capture.  I began taking media cards to a local drug store lab for processing where a lab technician gave me encouragement to pursue photography as more than a mere hobby.  I took her advice and the rest was history.

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Tamrac: What is the one piece of camera equipment you always take with you?
Blair: A strobe light.  I have learned strobe lighting inside and out, and it allows me to manipulate any environment to fit my needs.

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Tamrac: You shoot seniors, families, newborns and weddings.  What do you like most about each one and do you have a favorite between them? Or is it too hard to choose?
Blair: I love creating genuine conversations and building relationships.  Seniors are one of the most enjoyable outlets for me due to the complete creative freedom you can have with them.  Newborns are also really high on my list.  I am very sensitive and compassionate, so working with the delicate nature of babies fits me very well.  Since the birth of my daughter, I have cut the weddings back to only 10 per year.  My family has to come first and foremost.

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Tamrac
: Things have come a long way since I was a senior in high school where we just got our yearbook photo taken.  Where do you come up with all the crazy, unusual settings for your senior shoots?  Do the seniors give you input for what they want or do you create the shoot on your own?  What do they then do with their images?
Blair: I use to travel to random locations for seniors.  The constant driving all over the place got really old, really quick.  I decided to build my very own senior oasis equipped with over 30 different sets that are always available.  This way I am in complete control and have enough to fit any style.  My seniors give me input on their outfit choices and that is pretty much it.  We have marketed and branded our studio in a way that client’s give us complete freedom to do whatever we see fit.  The majority of our senior clients still purchase wall portraits, an album, gift prints, and wallets.

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Blair’s “Senior Oasis”

Tamrac: You do a lot of workshops on a variety of different topics.  What is your favorite thing to teach that you think every starting photographer needs to learn?
Blair: Lighting, lighting, lighting.  Learning lighting gives you so much control of every press of your shutter.  Lighting is one of the concrete fundamentals that most photographers don’t tackle right away.  It can be intimidating, but I have a clever way of breaking it down so people will understand it in ten minutes.  Lighting is the root of all photographs.

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Tamrac: What was your favorite image you took in the last year?
Blair:  There has never been a tougher question for me.  I do well over 500 studio session, as well as a lot of volume photography.  It would literally be impossible for me to pick.

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Tamrac: What Tamrac gear do you use?
Blair: With all of my traveling, I would be lost without my Tamrac gear bags.  Some of my most important pieces are the Super Rolling Studio Bags (Model 662) and the Ultra Pro 13 (Model 5613).  For airplane travel I sometimes rely on the hefty Expedition 8x (Model 5588).  For weddings I love my Cyberpack Roller (Model 5267). With Tamrac, I feel certain that I will wear out long before any of my Tamrac bags.

Blairs Bag

Blair’s Ultra Pro 13 with his gear

Tamrac: What do you love about your Tamrac bags?
Blair: The sheer quality and design.  Tamrac knows exactly what we need as a photographer and have a rock solid solution for all of my carry needs.

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Blair in his studio shooting a video on his Tamrac bags

Click here to see Blair’s video (from photo above) on his Tamrac Bags.

For more information on Blair and Suzanne and their work, please visit their links: Website: www.blairphillipsphotography.com
Facebook:
www.facebook.com/blairphillipsphotography
Facebook: www.facebook.com/blairphillipsworkshops
Instagram: @blair_phillips
Twitter: @bpphotography
Email: blair@blairphillipsphotography.com

 

 

 

 

Photographer Spotlight – Q&A with Max Roper

We’re excited to to partner up with concert-photography maven, world traveler, and entrepreneur, Max Roper. We got to pick his brain about some of the visually striking images he’s captured and packaged it all up this this blog post for your enjoyment! So read on and enjoy!

Mute-Math – Drum Jump!

Tamrac:  Tell us about your first experience with photography and when you knew it was something you wanted to do.
Max:
  I am a fairly new photographer in general, I got my first DSLR back in 2009 and started just taking photos of anything I was doing. I travel a lot so I was very excited to start getting some good documentation of my travels. Music is a huge part of my life so I think once that was blended with photography, I was into it!

Black-Keys

Tamrac: How did you get started with concert photography? Did you know the bands or just show up with your camera in hand and start taking awesome photos?
Max:
I love and play music and was going to shows all the time and I thought that I would try and sneak my camera in to get some shots of this artist I was seeing at a smaller venue. I separated the camera up between a few of my friends and I got it in. After the show, I posted the photos on the artists facebook page and they loved them. It was really unexpected. I honestly really had no idea what I was doing, but they really liked my photos. That encouraged me to continue.

MUTEMATH-Dallas

Tamrac: What kind of camera gear do you usually take on your concert shoots? Do you ever use a flash as a fill or use only stage lighting?
Max: My first camera was the Nikon D80 and I loved it, so now I am a Nikon dude! I use the D700 now and pretty much just the 24-70 f/2.8 and the 70-200 f/2.8. Once in a while I will bring out my fisheye or the 50mm 1.4 if it will work for the shoot I am on. The 24-70 f/2.8 is pretty much my go-to lens. About 90% of my shots are with that lens.  I bought a flash a few years ago and the first time I tried to take it out it got dropped in a lake and that was that. I am a big proponent of using only stage lighting.

Jay-Z

Tamrac: You’ve managed to capture some epic moments in concerts (Mute Math drum jump). Are some of these simply being at the right place at the right time and do you also have an idea of how the show will go so you’re able to plan your shoot out?
Max: Thanks :). That Mute Math concert was actually the 4th concert I had taken photos at so I was still getting into the swing of how it all works. I had never seen them before. They were just unreal! Still to this day, they are one of the most amazing bands touring. That night may have had a bit of luck on it. I was also just so into their energy. I think it contributed to how good all of the shots came out. Since then I’ve been on a few tours with bands where I’m shooting their show every night which allowed me to really learn the pace of their sets. You can be very calculated in that type of situation.

Mumford-and-Sons

Tamrac: From all of the concert shoots you’ve been on I’m sure you’ve seen some pretty crazy stuff. Do you have any funny or crazy stories you can share?
Max: There is always something crazy happening at every concert. Haha. I was taking photos in New York once and it was a pretty insane show; mosh pits everywhere and crowd surfing galore. I was up front and taking photos and some dude from the crowd that was (obviously) pretty drunk decided that it was the best call to pour the remainder of his beer all over me and my camera. My camera was a bit sticky but it was all good. He ended up apologizing. It was pretty funny afterwards.

Tamrac: So what do you like to do when you’re not shooting Jay-Z or traveling around the world?
Max: I have a few things going on. I do tech stuff over at Red Bull and just finished up the Red Bull Stratos project where we had an athlete skydive from space. The project went very well and I am glad he is alive. I also have a tech startup called Appetize. It’s a mobile app that allows you to order food/drinks/merchandise at stadiums and get it delivered to your seat. It is going very well and we have some pretty awesome products that I am very happy about. I love the blues. When I am not working on my other projects, I am playing some blues guitar.

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Tamrac: Are there any projects or opportunities on the horizon for you that you’d be able to share with us?
Max: I am a licensed skydiver and am trying to get as many jumps as possible to be able into get to base jumping. I am pretty excited about it and plan to start base jumping everywhere I travel to. Hopefully some of my photography can carry over into that space and I can starting getting some new and innovative shots.

Tamrac: Lastly, do you have any advice for other photographers that have been inspired by your work?
Max: Every photographer should strive to be as unique as possible. Just trying to copy someone else won’t get you very far and ultimately will just put you in the cloud of others. Strive to be as personally creative as possible!

To see and learn more about Max:
Website: www.maxroper.com
Instagram: @maxroper
Twitter: @maxroper

Tamrac Sponsored Photographer Kevin Kubota Q&A

Kevin KubotaAmerican Photo Magazine named Kevin Kubota one of the “Top 10 Wedding Photographers in the World”. His photos have been featured on the covers and within the pages of countless popular magazines and photography books. Kevin has been a featured presenter for Nikon and Adobe, and his work with the Nikon digital camera earned him a spot as a Nikon “Legend Behind the Lens”.

Kubota is an internationally recognized speaker, having presented for every major photographic convention in the USA. He created the popular “Digital Photography Bootcamp®” workshop which has been running successfully since 2002. He authored the book under the same name, now in it’s second edition, published by Amherst Media. Kevin shares over 2 decades of commercial and portrait lighting experience in his latest book, The Lighting Notebook, published by Wiley. The companion iApp, is available in the iTunes store.

Kubota Image Tools products have won multiple Hot One Awards as well as the Readers Choice Award. Kevin was personally awarded the 2009 Monte Zucker Memorial Humanitarian Award for social service through photography

Tamrac:
Wedding photography can be very challenging, but your images convey beauty, personality and spontaneity.  What inspires you to create such amazing photos?
Kevin:

Adrenaline!  But seriously, I do actually thrive on the pressure of photographing weddings. I think that certain people are able to use pressure and adrenaline to be creative and solution oriented, while others tend to freeze under it. Good wedding photographers find a way to use the pressure to fuel their creativity. The style of my imagery, I think, comes from my own romantic imagination and my ability to connect and put my clients at ease. I try not to use formulas to create an image, but instead I let my imagination run wild and try to put what’s in my head in to my client’s head – so they become part of the process. I’m also not afraid to ask my client to do anything that pops in to my head – within reason. If they say no, I move on, but I’m not afraid of hearing “no” because usually they say, “Sure!”.

Tamrac:
Have any funny moments happen to you during a shoot?
Kevin:

My wife, Clare, and I would often joke with wedding clients during the pre-wedding meeting about what, if any, unique events they had planned – so that we could be prepared to photograph them. We’d joking say, “Do you have anything special planned? Special guests giving speeches? Slideshows? Fire breathers?”. We’d get a giggle and make a note of anything to watch for.
After one wedding, we were packing up to head home as the wedding reception continued to rage on through the night. As we were walking out, I saw behind the reception tent a woman in a skimpy costume (which of course caught my eye :-) secretly pouring liquid from a can on some sort of baton, and in her mouth. I immediately thought it was some wacky belly-dancing pyro terrorist plot, but then soon put the pieces together…FIRE BREATHER!
I whipped open my (Tamrac) bag, grabbed my camera, and ran back in to the tent just in time to catch the surprise fire-breathing dance show that one of the guests had planned for the bride and groom! It was amazing and certainly something you don’t see at every wedding!
Clare and I laughed, we finally got our fire breather.

Kubota-Fire-Breather

Tamrac:
You recently traveled to Rwanda, can you tell us about your experience?
Kevin:

It was an emotional roller coaster! We went there with some of our staff and a few photographer friends to deliver some funds we’d saved to a woman who ran a large orphanage. I was initially introduced to her by my good friend, Benjamin Edwards. He inspired me – through his own documentary photos, to do something to help her and the orphans. She was Rwandan and didn’t speak English, but after we’d told her we had the gift to give her, she – via a quick cell phone video – managed to convey her sincere thanks, and encouraged me to come visit her in Rwanda. I was moved to tears and we were determined to make the trip happen.

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While we were there we visited with her, the children, the volunteer teachers at the makeshift school, and all the wonderful people who’s lives she touched. We documented the journey with photos and video and shared the experience when we returned. I’ve heard from many photographers since then who have seen my work and in turn been inspired to do something charitable like that themselves – just like I was inspired by Ben.
We often never know how our images will affect people and the world, so we have to just take them, share them, and know that the ripple effect has been put in motion.

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Tamrac:
What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?
Kevin:

Create personal projects. One of the hardest things for new AND seasoned pro photographers is to stay motivated and fresh. Whether you need to learn a new technique, perfect an existing one, or push yourself to create something completely new, projects are the way to go. You simply cannot wait for ideas and assignments to find you! You have to create time and commit to doing them until the day comes when client requests overwhelm you. At that point, it’s even harder to schedule time for personal projects, but they are just as important to keep doing. Put it on your calendar a time to do a personal project. Treat it like a real job and commit to it. You’ll grow in leaps and bounds!

Kubota Ninja

Tamrac:
Tell us one place that you have not been but would love to photograph and why?
Kevin:

I have not yet been to Atlantis. I love scuba diving and have started working on my underwater photography. It’s a lot harder than I thought! I think the under-sea world is absolutely fascinating and beautiful. It reminds me of being on another planet (not that I’ve actually been on another planet yet). I enjoy the challenges of learning something new and of photographing things we don’t see every day. When underwater, you generally have to get much closer to your subject to make it come out clear and colorful and this is particularly challenging when the currents are whisking you around or big sharp teeth are smiling at you.

Kubota Tuscany

Tamrac:
How has Social Media helped you as a photographer?
Kevin:

It’s given me another avenue to share my experiences and projects – which often leads to inquiries about new jobs and opportunities. In a way, it is also an incentive to get out and keep shooting or to be more committed to my personal project agendas. When the world is watching, you want to push yourself a little more – and that’s good for our own growth.

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Tamrac:
What is your favorite movie?
Kevin:

Ooh, tough one. I loved Moulin Rouge for it’s silliness, romance, quirkiness, and dramatic sets. It is just so unusual and entertaining. I also loved Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for its unusual premise, characters, and romantic desperation. Then, of course, I love movies like Lord of the Rings and 300 for their visual amazingness and inspiration.

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Tamrac:
What do you love about your Tamrac bags?
Kevin:
I’ve been using Tamrac bags for about 20 years. My mentor when I started wedding photography had a Tamrac bag that he swore by, so of course I had to get one too. I’m kind of a gadget geek and pretty particular about ergonomics and details in the products I use. I’ve been known to buy several brands and types of similar products just to find the one that is “just right” and then give the others away. My Tamrac bags and products have always just fit my needs and held up extremely well. I’ve never had one break, rip, or wear out. The features are well thought out and satisfy my ergonomic pickiness.

Tamrac:
What Tamrac gear do you use?
Kevin:

My main bag has been the Super Pro 14. It is the perfect size for my primary photo gear and I particularly love the computer sleeve in the back of the bag. I use this for my computer, obviously, but it also perfectly fits my 42” pop-up reflector disc (when folded), which goes with me everywhere. I like that this slot is behind the main cover so my disc can stick out a little and I can still secure the front flap over the main compartment. I haven’t seen any other bag on the market that offers as much versatility for my needs.
I also have a Super Pro 13 that I use for my speedlights, wireless transceivers, and other smaller lighting gadgets.
I have a 324 tripod bag, and 3 of the 328 Location bags for my light stands and folding light panels.
I use Rolling Strong Box 692 and 694 for my studio strobes and larger light heads. I love that they protect my delicate gear, are relatively light to move, and have wheels for easy cruising.
When I’m traveling abroad and don’t want to carry a ton of gear I use my Adventure 9 backpack for my DSLR and misc. goodies and an Express 6 compact case for my point-n-shoot.
For my day-to-day work commuting with my laptop and gadgets I use the Superlights Computer Messenger 15. I also have the Superlights Computer Sleeve 15 for when I just need to transport my laptop and nothing else.
And of course, what accessory collection would be complete without a red flames camera strap!

 

For more on Kevin Kubota, you may visit his website at www.KevinKubota.com

Q&A with Tom Carey

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We are so thrilled to have surfing photographer Tom Carey as a Tamrac Sponsored Photographer.  Tom joins our team with an incredible talent at capturing surfers in some of the most extreme and beautiful enviroments.  Since picking up his first camera at the age of 12, Tom Carey has been passionately pursuing his lifelong dream of shooting the best surfers, in the best waves, around the world. Nineteen years later he’s still doing what he enjoys and his photos are a testament to that love.  When not roaming the globe, Tom resides in Costa Mesa, CA with his lovely wife K.C. The 32-year-old Seal Beach native is currently a staff photographer for Volcom Inc. and Surfing Magazine. In 2010 he ranked 1st on the Transworld Business Exposure Meter.

Tom Cary

Self Portrait, Tom Cary

Tamrac: How did you get into surfing photography?
Tom:  I started off with my mom’s Minolta SLR just shooting my friends who were good amateur surfers at the time. This was the film days and my first shots weren’t too bad. A lot of my friends turned pro and I ended up sticking with it.

©Tom Carey

Tamrac: Did you learn to surf before you became a photographer?
Tom: I definitely learned to surf before I became a photographer. I wouldn’t say I’m that great or anything but my timing and wave knowledge is good I think.

©Tom Carey

©Tom Carey

Tamrac: What tip would you give to someone who wants to photograph surfing?
Tom:
I’ve seen the most success from people that buddy up with one great surfer, travel around with them, and meet other great surfers. Really it’s all about connections and opportunities. So knowing the right people always helps.  Otherwise a lot of guys are shooting underwater and empty wave photos only now. They seem to be having some success with that so it just shows you that you don’t have to have someone on the wave to make a great photo.

©Tom Carey

©Tom Carey

Tamrac: You have traveled all over the world, is there a particular location you love to visit?
Tom: A lot of times you end up going to the same places time after time so anywhere new and fresh is always an adventure. Indonesia however seems to have the best waves and weather, which are two combinations we all love.

©Tom Carey

©Tom Carey

Tamrac: What projects are you excited about this summer?
Tom: Well I think Volcom is going to slowly start filming for an upcoming movie, which I hope to contribute to. That might take us over to France, Bali, and really just bring our team together. Its always fun to work on these projects and then see the finished product and say “Wow, I was a part of that .” It’s a good feeling.

©Tom Carey

©Tom Carey

Tamrac: Most of us will never know the feeling of being in a “pipe” or “tube”, can you describe what it is like?
Tom: The vision you get is always amazing. I couldn’t tell you what it feels like to be on a surfboard on a giant Tahiti barrel or anything like that but I’ve had a few tubes on some smaller waves. The feeling of coming up from shooting a big tube is pretty awesome as well. Especially now that our cameras are digital. You usually know when you had a good “hook-up” and you’ll straight away check out your LCD screen. Next thing you know you’re showing the surfer that probably got pounded on the wave if he fell. So they like to know the beating wasn’t for nothing.

©Tom Carey

©Tom Carey

Tamrac: What Tamrac gear do you use?
Tom: I travel with my Tamrac Expedition 8x Back Pack and either my Super Telephoto Lens Pack to fit my 600mm, or my Tamrac Big Wheels Speed Roller Case.

Tamrac: What do you love about your Tamrac bags?
Tom: The durability hands down to me is my number one concern. I abuse my gear constantly with all my travels and Tamrac’s bags are the only ones that seem to hold up. The salt air that I surround my self with corrodes everything, especially zippers. But my back pack has the weather sealed zippers and I never get a single snag. I’ll carry as much gear as I can on the planes these days as well. And my Tamrac’s just seem to fit everything more proficiently.

For more information on Tom and to see more of his amazing work, visit his website! tomcareyphoto.com