Blair's Prop Shops


Senior Photography: Break the Mold


Lesson Info

Blair's Prop Shops

Like I said, some of you may not have a big studio to work in and that's okay, I'm going to show you now my next project that I just uh we're actually still finishing up I started it last year and it takes a while because I'm obviously very much I'm very much a working photographer very much like to do a lot of things myself so it's hard to find the time to do it but just say I wanted to shoot outside but I really wanted a controlled environment how are you going to create a controlled environment outside like there's just you can't do that well you can if you build something like my prop shop now it took me two years to figure out all the schematics of how I wanted it I don't know if I did it this way it wouldn't work no this is not gonna work and I finally got to lay down and then then I built it this is my outdoor this is I call it my prop shop this is my prop shop and absolutely love having a prop shop to work in on those days where it's kind of gloomy outside or if it's raining yo...

u know what do you do if it's raining well this is what I do know is this feasible can every does everyone have one of these? No but it took me nine years to get there every space is based off of a twelve by twelve so is twelve twelve foot wide, twelve foot deep and like this first set here I'll show you the first set in just a second, but let me get the schematics of that first the ceilings are this beam right here that this this white bean right across in here is thirteen feet tall because I figured that I needed to be at least thirteen feet tall to allow a good light transmission to come from underneath back inside if you make it too short there's not gonna be enough light to get some of your subject. So is thirteen feet home and then I put gravel around in the front of it so that when the light is outside, sun is gonna come down, hit the gravel, go back inside and act as a reflector. I messed up our almost messed up when I started and put white gravel was like, nice know what that would do is you'd like count lee that's bright walk outside on the concrete one day when it's super super bright outside and you know what I'm saying? Um so this set here this is rough cut lumber on the back and on the left side this is a rough cut lumber that I got from a sol meal. It's very cheap brought it back now that's the walls painted it the one in the middle I cut each one of those boards just to give a dimension give it a little bit of a different variety what I'm going to do now is gonna continue painting these televisions and make that whole corner just a wall of painted televisions that are white why would I do that? I don't know why not because they're there and I can get tv's free on craigslist all day long and I can paint him and make something worked there the big clock on the right I made that other decking boards, you know, boards and she would build a deck out off I made a big clock and I love the clock it's just something different I can stand people up and they're standing in front of a big clock pull him off of it a little bit, shooting an aperture of, you know, three, five, five, six so you can still kind of telling us a clock, but you can't really tell that it's something that I built love that get a lot of great response out of that lot of great response chandeliers now this one is one of my favorites now let's just take this background the right hand side and the one in the back these are whether resists in one hundred percent because what they are is linoleum flooring those are pieces of linoleum flooring that I get a say you could get him his remnants you could buy a really, really cheap linoleum and when I do is you turn it over so it's face down and that's what you paint on you paint the backside of it because it's normally pretty smooth even if it has texture it doesn't matter it's pretty smooth and it will withstand all sorts of elements, all sorts of elements now with that being said, the pain that we use every dishes, regular latex paint and what I've found this is another thing I wanna point out at the top you see how I've got it, they're all I've done is I've taken up to about four I've laid the two before down on the ground I'll take the backdrop put the edge over top of the two before I take another two before put it on top of that kind of sandwich it in between and then I put a lot of screws all the way down through it so that one about hang it up, it'll stay there and then I don't connect it at the bottom because what I've learned is his things expand and contract so down here don't screw that backdrop down to the wall because it will expand and contract all idea was that took that rough cut lumber cut a little strip painted the same color pop it on there and your good this old piano it's one of those freebies the shutters over here got those shutters from habitat restore I got every one of those shoulders right there for forty dollars. Forty bucks can't beat that couch tj maxx he's be leopard print I don't like leopard print a painted pink some of the images I mean that I love that love that chevron is huge right now chevron is like the man I mean it's also has been around for years but for some reason somebody made it popular again and I love it I say what's sad teo about our society this girl right here his beautiful issues she is a plus size model she came in she was like, yeah, I do some modeling and I shot her senior picture and she's a year but I'm a plus size model and that sad our society is going and she's a plus size model it's crazy it's crazy but anyways, having things to shoot with makes my job so much easier obviously so much easier like this next one this is where my friend of the junkyard comes in handy now this is a hodgepodge of different things, but again this is a fence panel on the left hand side my friend was tearing down offense from one of those rental properties and I said, well let me have that he said are you serious? Yeah so I covered the wall of fence panels I go to the junk yard to get all these various accoutrements and items and with the whole wall right there with everything from the scrap pile if I've got one hundred fifty or a hundred dollars in and I'm doing really good I don't have much more than that involved is there some of the images I get from there it's just rustic it's riel and this image this girl here her father owns a huge mexican restaurant area so I donated a large print to hang up in there in there with my name on and all that and they went crazy about it went crazy so you can use these sets not only as shooting a very wide angle to get the whole set but you can come in like I did on this this image right here and get a much tighter version too and take advantage of all the textures in the background this one here this is another bay so it's two sided that image is just on the beginning there's three bays on one side and on the opposite side there are three bays there the one in the middle says barn sighting so barn siding it comes in she and sheets at lowe's and it's a four by eight sheets nail into the wall and dry brush it with paint one on the left he's their doors that that that I built out of that scrap wood cut little medallions to go on it painted it and then I found a guy that used to do stucco and now he needs extra money doesn't have a job he did the stucco forming the right side again linoleum dresser linoleum paint the floor when you're building says build them through your camera put your camera up and look at it and figure out exactly where things need to be don't do it just by eye because when you pick your camera and look at it you're like oh man I should have brought that in and move that up I love love love this type of stuff like some of the images here they're simple but just the color harmonies work this was before I painted the floor before I paint on the floor plus thousand model that's so that just makes you matt here is the latest one that I'm working on and this is again those pieces a linoleum and this one here like way painted a hot spot in the middle of its was brighter in the center and we've got another one scheduled to go over here I mean I'm absolutely loving my job loving my job off the wall sets I bought one of these years ago this thing was like ridiculously expensive but I think I quit using it because those turn of it I put it back out, I use it inside now throw it outside. I don't care if it gets messed up has something like that that I use now now this next one oh yeah this has been one of biggest hits so far this summer I was in the junkyard and I saw this and I went drug this thing out of a big metal pile how do you get on a tractor and bring the trach hole up there and literally drag it out myself? I know the gal well enough that I could just use the equipment on that. So this is a scoreboard from the local high school, one of the local high schools. So these kids love the fact that this is from their school this nice kid this is not this is from his competitors or his rival. He doesn't know that that came from south throw in and I don't tell him that I don't tell him that. Um now yeah, exactly. And again a non moving quick, but I want to share all this information with you. We're gonna open up some questions in just a few minutes, but I don't want us to get to four ofthe task cause I really want to show you guys this stuff who would like to have an old country store to use like the front of an old countries to our piss picture some old timers out old country store that would be the perfect setting sometimes but we don't have an old country store well I didn't either but now I do I took that rough cut lumber and I built the front facade is just the front of what looks to be a store it's really only about this deep I built the front bill today put the top over like this coca cola cooler over here I was in a gas house doing some images for his family I saw this old cook a cooler cooler out in the field like that baby's coming home with me so I asked him and I said I set the tone was like hey man that whole thing is probably rusted all the pieces you know I don't even really know what I could do with a map let's see if I could take her around on that thing one day at such probably too far going I'm sure I'm going ahead and building the doubt in his mind I'm manipulating to get what I want sorry but I am I got that for thirty books now I've got a guy in town that brings me things all the time because he found out that I needed stuff he shows up all the time with all his old craft like here I got this for your store and if I don't use it, I throw it away no talent, but I don't want to hurt his feelings, but he'll just bring stuff from drop it all only thing I paid for their on that whole porch was, uh, was the coca cola cola. Now look, the way you khun staying that wood to make it look that way as you take number two steel wool. All right, open up a whole pack of like twelve of them little steel wool pads throwing a five gallon bucket, poor apple cider vinegar in there fill it up so that it's completely submerge, the steel will completely submerged. Leave it alone for twenty four hours, and it will create a chemical reaction and turn this liquid brown, and then you just you just rub it all over the wall has still well, and it makes your would look really, really old really, really old. But asked one of my favorite says, follow me on this one, this one's going to get deep here, we're going to the walk outside. Look on the top of your home, you'll see a piece of white pbc sticking up out of the roof, and that is an exhaust vent for your toilet now what goes around that is this little collar has called an exhaust fan collar I bought these from a plumbing shop and there it was terrible they were made out of galvanized you don't use them anymore so they were just sitting there I bought it for ten cents apiece brought him back, build me a place to put him put him up. Now what sense does that make? I don't know, but I got him for ten cents apiece and I made a backdrop hot off so it's pretty cool he's got a lot of texture and I love it I love it when he was lighting with it it's there so she's shaking her head and she's either saying man, your creative or you're an idiot one of the two one of the two that it was electric meters from like an apartment I got you that does make sense maybe that she pulled those out off or something, but yeah, I love that I love using that same thing with this girl you can put plain jane or go wherever now this next one kind of got me in a miss and I'll tell you what my communications station, all these televisions I had and I was like, well, why don't I just use these for something? But what happened is, is now I've gotta pleasure of people that air dropping stuff off behind my studio because they think that is a dump seriously they bring all kinds of random stuff so what I don't want I do have to throw away, but I'll go out there on mondays and like, see what kind of goodies you got today I bought this one. This was one that I did spend money on, not just for a prop. I told my wife I was for a problem but it was really just to fuel my desire for big shrugs most people wouldn't realise but I drive a big f two fifty diesel truck this lifted with thirty seven inch tires and wheels up you would never imagine that for me, but that's may I love big trucks. I bought this truck from a guy for twenty five hundred bucks. I drove this trail was driveable. I'll put insurance and a tag on it and I put my logo on the side of it and I drove this thing around town for like a year and a half. I would've got a launch. Pull up, get out! I mean, I was just like this little guy was spiked hair traven a big rig, but I like to create that contrast. People like what ah, that was me I love it now found the guy that came to the studio one day and he was like, please tell me, that's, your big red truck out back I was like, why was from has on fire? What? He's, like I've been looking for that trophy twenty four years and I was like, jackpot. Yes, he said, is it for sale? Oh, you bet it is. If you've been looking for that long, actually sold it to him and made a good bit of money off of it. So fortune just happened to work out that way. This is a prime example of people dropping stuff off old fencing and file cabinets it's out there. I say, you know what? I'm gonna force myself out of my comfort zone. I'm going to use it. Why not what's wrong with that? So I force myself to see how I can use it. And I made it work. Now, that chain link fence that I showed you earlier, I put a new gate up because I defense my area in my studio is broken into, right? As soon as I got a remodel, they cut a big hole in the ceiling and it rained that night and flooded my entire studio. So there are well, again. Really? Come on, man. You're killing me here. And then when I got a prop shop done someone pushed the barb wire down and jumped in and stole a bunch of other stuff so it's like I can't win for losing but that chain link fence I figured out a way to create some artwork and make a usable image out of that right so that's the power of lighting that's the power line everything that comes to the u s or comes anywhere normally is own a palate a wooden pallet because something you can do with with a saturday afternoon a little bit of inspiration a little bit of hard work what about a palace said she had to create it you go collect and accumulate old pal it's from various stores that are getting rid of them bring him in and that's my wolf in the back of a wolf dog I'm just kidding but lay them all out and you just start cutting him into doing a different angles, different angles you make a base cutting one different angles and then just take your mail going to start nail them all before you know what you got something you can use this it's pretty cool and it's relatively inexpensive I got the idea I was shooting some images in a workshop in kansas city and it was nowhere to shoot no where and I said let's, go behind your building here but there's something back there oh, now those pallets like yes let's do that let's go grab some leaves sort some leaves in there we're gonna make this work and then from there I created an alliance with the junk yard man now that junkyard this guy is a convicted felon for harboring weapons of mass destruction and possession of a firearm by convicted felon but he and I are like this because I know how to befriend people in a genuine way I went to him and no one else in town even paying any attention and I extended a hand hey man, how are you I'm blair this is the deal you've got something I want I love tto have one of these old truck's here we sat down and talked to him I'm very approachable and the way that I approach people normally I can get through to them and I said man, what would it take for me teo to borrow one of these trucks said I don't really want to buy it because I just want to use you for a couple of years and maybe just give it back to you thinking he would say well that's stupid but he said look, I don't carry so when he wanted and I said well, today would be great and he's like all right? He yells in the back, eh, frank, get that get that human body forward taking over here to blair's studio he dropped it all I don't even have to pay him anything he dropped it off and I've had that truck for two years now and I'm getting ready call him and say hey looking well come out and search for something else once you come get this one and it'll work but I've got a truck that I can use you know, many girls come on there cowboy boots and they want that country's theme thing going on all right, why did this I said way he'll give me one of those maybe I'll get me a car so I got a nineteen forty chevrolet from him bring that bag we drive brushed it painted both sides of it now I've got an old forty chevrolet that's that's got the british flag it's got a garden on the other side that's a pretty cool look right there pretty cool look loving that and it's virtually free right virtually for yusa now you need ideas you know, just sit I don't just say okay let's let's go get a car doesn't happen that way. I mean, you have to pace yourself. So if you need a night if you need ideas, look at pinterest look at window displays when you when you go to a mall and then when you're there take a picture of it for inspiration have that picture printed and then get you a corkboard somewhere in your studio get you a little court board our bulletin board and take that take that picture put them on your bulletin board that's exactly what we did this is one that these are images that we used for inspiration that you know, for a set that we want to design we knew we love the colors I couldn't just sit at my desk and say I'd love to have something that was kind of teal purple pink that's why people hire designers when you build a house because I'm going to house now and my wife's like okay there what you want to do in the you know, down in the theater and what what color do you want to use? I'm like I know I need to see something to get a visual inspiration I can't just say I loved have moko with a hint of ground coffee beans with a hint of yellow like no doesn't happen that way I have to see it and say well like this but I do different that would change this and this and put this in there and then I would like it so everything doesn't appeal to everyone but finding some like this and they said that we that I have an example to show you what was inspired from this is this one you see the colors seethe seethe difference there like same color here very similar. Same field, same field. It doesn't look the exact same, but it gave me a go to gave me a go buy something to work on, something to work for and towards.

Class Description

Are you ready to add a new, lucrative dimension to your photography business? Join award-winning photographer Blair Phillips for an introduction to everything you need to know about taking portraits for high school seniors.

In this three-day course, you’ll learn about how to market yourself to the high school audience, no matter where you live or who you know. Blair will discuss his signature techniques for effortless, versatile posing. You’ll also learn everything you need to know about both off-camera and natural lighting, including how to create foolproof lighting setups, even if you’re working without an assistant. Blair will also cover strategies for creating a productive workflow and working confidently in a wide variety of settings.

By the end of this course, you’ll have be equipped with the core marketing techniques and one-of-a-kind photography skills needed to connect with high school seniors, give them results they’ll love, and grow your business.


a Creativelive Student

Blair is great. This class is packed full of great info and is a genuine good hearted person.. Really like his approach with high school seniors. I recommend it.


Loved watching Blair Phillips. He has so much energy and is very entertaining to watch. He was extremely well prepared and did a fantastic job.