Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Shooting for her dreams — Skyview graduate merges photography, music industry

Blair Reynolds recently came back to town to wow folks with an impressive photography display at Coffee Roasters on Kalifornsky Beach in December. Her work is extremely high contrast, depicting band and concert events from names like Fall Out Boy and Silverstein.

She has some quieter portraits of whole bands or solo performers that feel quite intimate and spontaneous. Her full portfolio also includes shots of Dillinger Escape Plan, Every Time I Die, Alesana, Misery Signals, Chiodos, Gym Class Heros, Paramore, Haste the Day, The Bleed, Portugal the Man, Anberlin, Poison the Well, Bayside, Goodbye Elliot, The Sword, Circus Survive, The Academy Is, The Almost, Deftones, Boys Like Girls, N.E.R.D., All Time Low, 3oH!3, Fear Before and Geffery Star.

In an image from a Silverstein concert, she captured that ecstatic moment when a fan reaches for and makes a connection with an often-frenetic performer. The lighting is surreal, and as is true in much of what she chronicles, the lights created by other photographers actually help to garnish the amazing light for her lens to capture.

While growing up on the Kenai Peninsula she attended public schools and graduated from Skyview High School. An atypical student, Blair credits two teachers for altering her life path by encouraging her interest in photography, and helping her fulfill that dream. Clark Fair and Sandra Lewis, both teachers at Skyview High School, were definitely a positive influence, and she still values their support.

Sandra remembers Blair as an exceptional student who went the extra mile, refining and perfecting her photography, often spending vacations working hard on her craft.
“It was great to have her in class.” Sandra said. “She inspired me. I’m pretty sure she made her mind up to become a professional photographer her junior year and never deviated from that pursuit.”

Recruited by the Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University, Blair attended school on the East Coast in 2005 and 2006. While studying photography, she began developing contacts with bands, record label executives, producers and high-end fashion photographers. After graduation, she moved to Denver and is currently employed by Soda Jerks Presents as a promoter for local music venues. Blair is also a tour manager for bands based out of Denver, New York and Los Angeles.

Blair envisioned using photography professionally, whether it translated into commercial success or not. Happiness comes from following your dreams, she said, and she loves the road she is on. She’s being careful to not fall into the various traps and foibles that can diminish the professional nature of what she does. She says it’s easy to not feel star-struck when so many of her friends are involved with bands and with the industry.

She also says she doesn’t want to be typecast into any one genre, and has the desire to do something important for the world at large. She’s been looking into Invisible Children, a Los Angeles-based organization that helps kids in Africa. She wants to go document what’s going on.

Talking to this young dynamo of a woman, I don’t doubt that if she sets her mind to it, it will happen. As we spoke, even more talent abounded in the crowded café during the opening. Kelsey Shields, Derek Poppin and Kaleb Nelson were putting out grass-rooty, original music, a nice complement to the energetic photography.

Although her work speaks for itself, included in her bio was the following, impressive quote, from Dane Poppin with A Static Lullaby:

“Blair Reynolds Photography sets the bar for what should be expected out of a band/event photographer in a generation where every kid with a digital camera and a website can be labeled a ‘professional’. She is a person who has dedicated her entire life to pursuing her craft, and it truly shows. I’ve seen this girl surf crowds, elbow scene kids, and dodge speakers just to capture the intensity of a band’s live show in one photograph. If you are lucky enough to have her point the lens your way, be prepared to witness the best work her field has to offer.”

Zirrus VanDevere is a local mixed-media artist and owns Art Works gallery in Soldotna. She has bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and education.

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