When advertising photographer Blair Bunting took on an assignment to shoot an advertorial series of images of two hunters using their Chevy pickup truck for a turkey hunt for Chevy Outdoors Sporting Journal, he had no idea how apt the quote “If life deals you lemons, make lemonade” would frame his entire experience. Bunting is recognized in the advertising and editorial communities for his vibrant imagery and unique lighting. He has photographed numerous movie and television personalities, professional athletes, and high profile politicians, so he knows how to stay cool under pressure no matter what the obstacle, until he had to shoot a turkey hunt campaign in the flatlands of Oklahoma.
Bunting was contacted by the Chevy Outdoors Sporting Journal staff after they had seen his work for Discovery’s TV show The Deadliest Catch, which captured the look they wanted for their hunting advertorial. This was an assignment that Bunting was really looking forward to, because he wanted to test out a new camera body on set. However, before he even set foot in Oklahoma, he was barraged with phone calls alerting him that everything he planned for the shoot would have to change. As he was catching a plane to the shoot location, Bunting was told that the Chevy truck to be photographed was totaled in transit to the shoot, and the hunters would not be able to hunt turkey, as it was not actually hunting season yet. Bunting was all dressed up with nowhere to go, no Chevy truck and a hunting season that did not start for another week.
The pressure was on and he started to get a little stressed until a thought crossed his mind. “Once I let go of the idea that I could control things that were out of my hands, I saw a piece that existed, beyond the limitations put on my shoulders. We could shoot free of failure, free of control, and free of critique. We created art that day, a story of real life without the forced falsities that exist [in] an advertorial,” says Bunting.
Bunting got his creative juices going and visualized a whole new concept that would turn the turkey hunt advertorial into a more honest lifestyle story. Even without a truck, he could still capture what the terrain was like and the people who hunt wild turkeys. Shooting with a Nikon D3 and Nikkor 24-70 lens, Bunting began to capture images that were more photojournalistic and honest in style than the originally planned advertorial.
© Blair Bunting
Art Director Todd Kraemer at Chevy Outdoors was so pleased with the results that Bunting’s images ended up being used for a more honest and documentary-like, lifestyle story. In fact, the final piece ran without any shot of a Chevy truck at all. By making his own kind of lemonade out of a turkey shoot slightly gone awry, Bunting gained a new and very satisfied client. "Blair is simply one of those 'go-to' photographers when you need to make something special out of a difficult situation. He's versatile and energetic… always looking for a unique way to tell the story. Blair is equally adept at shooting vehicles or people, so he was perfectly suited to explore this challenging editorial assignment,” says Kraemer. Over the years Bunting has been thrown into a number of chaotic situations but he always comes through, and the images he made for the “turkey hunt” captured the exact look Kraemer was hoping to achieve with the feature.