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.

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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

 

 

 

 

Micro Sync II Review with Tom Keller

Hey everyone,

We got a chance to send Tom Keller one of our Micro Sync II remote firing units to test out with his steel wool photography. For those of you who don’t know what the Micro Sync II is, it’s a lightweight wireless system for remotely firing and syncing strobes, flashes and cameras. Check out the video at the end of Tom’s review to learn more! So here’s the review that Tom sent us after he had taken the MS II out on a few trips… and he sent pictures!!!

Tom: When I first received the Micro Sync II I thought it would come in quite handy with the
Steel Wool Photography I shoot. It’s light weight, made from plastic and metal and
pretty durable. At first I was having some issues with the receiver turning on and
syncing but after some quick trouble shooting it turned on and I haven’t had a problem
since.

I have never used a remote trigger before so I was eager to try it out. Since I typically
go out with a partner, it was exciting to come up with new ideas to take advantage of
MSII. We took the remote camping with us at Lake Tahoe to test our creativity and the
device and it turned out great. Because of the landscape, it was not ideal to travel from
the camera to the desired position for either of us so MSII made this shot of “Sleeping
under the Sparks” possible.

Photo 1

Just recently I took this photo “Light Keeper.” I was able to take multiple shots in a row
with MSII to allow the model to change poses without wasting time and sparks from
the steel wool.

Photo 2

Although I typically have a partner with me I occasionally go out alone and this is
when Micro Sync II really helps me out. It allows me to better prepare for photos farther away and not have to race against a timer.

Photo 3
Photo 4

All in all I think it’s a great product. It works great for lone photographers taking multiple shots at a distance or for close up group shots. It allows a photographer to get more creative with his work because there is one less restriction.

Photo 5

Here’s how I’ve incorporated the Micro Sync II into my photo shoots. My typical night shooting starts around 11pm. Once we arrive at a location, we set up the camera angle with Marissa standing where I plan on spinning. She helps focus the camera lens by shining a light at the camera. With the camera already in focus I then turn the camera off and take out the MSII, plug the firing cord into the receiver and then into the shutter release input. I then turn the camera back on to wake up the receiver and take a couple test shots before we start spinning. Lately, Marissa and I have been doing shots with her posing with props or silhouettes to switch it up a bit while I spin in the background. Once we’re both ready and sparks are flying, I use the remote in my other hand to trigger the camera to shoot. If sparks are still flying by the time the shutter closes, Marissa changes her pose and I’ll fire a second shot. The MSII really comes in handy in these situations when we’re both in the shot.
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For more information on the Micro Sync II watch the video below and visit the website: www.microsyncdigital.com

For more information on Tom Keller check out these links:
Tom’s previous post on Steel Wool Photography
Follow him on Facebook
Follow him on Instagram: @tomkellerphotography
Send him an email: Tommokeller@gmail.com

Become a part of out Instagram community by following @tamracphoto, and like us on Facebook to stay up with everything Tamrac!

Happy Customer: Troy Daniels

We love hearing from our customers about how our bags have kept their gear safe and sound. It lets us know that we’re doing it right and encourages us to keep making the quality products they can trust. We recently received feedback we’d like to share from photographer Troy Daniels telling us about his Evolution 8.

Penang, Malaysia - Note the awesome backpack

Penang, Malaysia – Note the awesome backpack

About a year ago I purchased the Tamrac Evolution 8 backpack for a solo trek through Hawaii.  Since then it has traveled though the mid-west, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and soon to be Myanmar.  Through all this, this pack has consistently held over 50 lbs of lenses and gear for up to eight hours at a time, been submerged in a river (big whoops), caught in several rainfall deluges and generally been my go to bag for all my traveling and hiking.

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Canon Mark III with mounted Canon 24-70mm. Tripod goes on the outside and I fit a few water bottles or snacks in just below the DSLR.

Middle - Canon 100 mm Macro, Extension tubes on top, Canon 16mm - 35 mm wide angle Bottom - Tokina 11mm - 16mm, Canon 70 - 200 mm (2.8 so its extra heavy), Canon Extender III.

Top – Canon 7D, Canon 24-105 mm lens
Middle – Canon 100 mm Macro, Extension tubes on top, Canon 16mm – 35 mm wide angle
Bottom – Tokina 11mm – 16mm, Canon 70 – 200 mm (2.8 so its extra heavy), Canon Extender III.

I am incredibly impressed by the strain I’ve put on it and how other than my stinky sweat odor remains in pristine condition.  My only concern is that with the consistent weight I put on the shoulder straps (yes, I use the hip strap too), they might eventually tear, but I’ve yet to see that.  I consider it an integral part of my setup and in the event that anything ever happens to it, I’ll definitely be buying another. Awesome product.  Don’t regret the purchase at all.

Troy

Troy will be happy to know that all of our backpack straps are reinforced with internal webbing and sewn through the entire seam twice where they attach to the bag with nylon boot thread. This ensures that those straps will not pull out and explains why they haven’t torn while carrying a consistent load of 50lbs of gear.

Troy wanted to give a shotout to Eldar who’s a sales associate at ePhotoCraft.com where he purchased his Evo 8. He’s thankful that Eldar highly recommends Tamrac bags, and gives him great advice along with an occasional discount. So thanks, Eldar!

Here are some more images that troy sent us taken during his trek through Hawaii.

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Big Island, Hawaii

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Big Island, Hawaii

Oahu

Oahu

Evo 9 and ZipShot spend 11 days in Yosemite

Hey folks! We recently partnered up with Chadwick Trentham, the Visual Storyteller at Azusa Pacific University, for an 11 day filming project that took Chadwick and his team over the mountains and through the valleys of California’s Yosemite Nation Park. We set him up with an Evolution backpack and a few ZipShot tripods to use and abuse on the trek, and abuse he did! We’re excited to share with you the visual story of Tamrac in Yosemite and Chadwick’s detailed account of the adventure! Enjoy!

11 days in the wilderness with the Tamrac Evolution 9 and a ZipShot tripod from Chadwick Trentham on Vimeo.

Chadwick in the wilderness
As a storyteller for Azusa Pacific University, my job includes producing films covering a range of topics: alumni, academics, campus events, and student life. That’s a pretty diverse task for a filmmaker—you never know what you might shoot next. One week I’m in the middle of the African bush filming an alumnus, and the next week I’m running alongside APU’s football team as they take the field for a home game (and trying not to get hit). As you can imagine, what I carry my gear in is very important; it has to be able to travel and function well in any situation.
The Crew
My most recent project took me on an 11-day backpacking trip with students into the Ansel Adams Wilderness in Northern California. I love to hike, so I was excited about this trip. Capturing the beauty of the outdoors would be the easy part. But 11 days on the trail also presented a few challenges. No showers, for instance. No outlets to charge my batteries either, which meant packing in plenty of extra batteries. Packing light? Not really an option.

The biggest challenge was finding a bag that would hold all my gear and keep it dust free, dry, and ready to go at a moment’s notice. The bag also had to fit inside the main compartment of my large backpacking pack, and be easy to use as a daypack. After researching my options, I landed on the Tamrac Evolution 9. It offered all the compartments and pouches I wanted, and looked like it was built for the rugged outdoors, including a rubber bottom to protect it from the dirt. It even came with a rain cover, and how could I say no to that? (That rain cover came in handy.)

It looked sturdy enough to hold all my gear, which included:
2 Canon 60Ds, 2 GoPro Hero2s
Canon 24mm f1.4, 50mm f1.4, 24-105mm f4, 70-200mm f2.8
Tokina 11-16mm f2.8
2 ZipShot tripods with a set of  ZipShot quick release plates
Manfroto 190XDB tripod with 701HDV head
Manfrotto 561bhdv1 monopod
Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier
Zoom H1, H4n
Evo next to river
The Evolution 9 was a perfect fit. Other than a few strap-ends being a little too long, it met all my needs and kept the gear safe, clean, and dry. I could set it down on the damp ground by a lake and know the gear was well protected. Toward the end of the trip, we got trapped in a three-day rainstorm complete with thunder and hail. As soon as I felt the first raindrop, I put the rain cover over the Evolution bag, put it in side my pack, and put another rain cover over that. When the rain stopped, I took the bag out of my pack and it was completely dry.

The pack also functioned really well for day hikes. On the day we repelled with the students, I needed to shoot from the bottom, so I used the chest and waist straps, put my tripod on the back of the bag, and repelled with all my gear on my back. Dangling about 100 feet off the ground, I knew that pack wasn’t going anywhere. After traveling with this bag, I’m not sure I would trust any other bag company. Tamrac’s lightweight, well-constructed bag met all my expectations. If it can survive 11 days in the wilderness, it can handle just about anything I throw at it.
Zipshot, how it worksZipshotQuick Release
I also used the ZipShot tripods, a new item for me. I needed a second option for filming but wanted something lightweight. The fact that it’s so light, compact, and can be set up in about a second sold me instantly. I used them almost daily on the trip, including once for an interview when I used my second 60D. It supported the camera’s weight, stabilized quickly, and got the job done. But the ZipShots really shined when I used them with the GoPros for time lapses, filming, and as a pole for a higher shot. They provided perfect support for the weight and were really easy to use with the ZipShot quick release plates. These will be a must have for any future trips.

Chadwick Trentham
Visual Storyteller for Azusa Pacific University
www.youtube.com/universityrelations
©Chadwick Trentham 2012, www.chadwicktrentham.com

For more information on the Evolution Series backpacks, visit: www.tamrac.com

For more information on the ZipShot Tripod, visit: www.zipshottripod.com