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The one-man-band photography studio | #CompanySpotlight

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This week, we’re shining our company spotlight on Ewan Burns, a one-man Swiss army knife when it comes to photography, videography and filmmaking.

How was your company born and where are you based?

It was born under a bright star, born out of the intense curiosity to experience and explore the lives of others and to have a reason to meet in interact with exceptional human beings. By combining our different skill sets, we mutually benefit from our experience, which has a multiplier effect. Creating together is a magical feeling and enormously bonding.  

We recently moved from Manhattan back to LA. We have a studio at “the Brewery,” the world's largest artist community. It’s pretty unique and has a fantastic Rock Gym, which I crazy good for keeping strong. LA is an excellent base camp for my life and career, but you’ll frequently find me outdoors in the high desert or landscapes of the west on the road in my mobile production unit. 

What was the biggest challenge to the growth of your company?

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Disruption to photography as a business and the democratization of the craft and art of photography have been challenges that all of us face.  

Specific to me, my biggest challenge is figuring out how to deliver commercial shoot quality on personal projects when I’m a “one-man band,” especially as I push into video. Luckily I like a good problem, and over time, I’ve leveraged e-mobility to develop moving platforms, hacked my gimble, and stacked newly acquired skill sets to grow.  

In the summer of 2021, Leo Burnett hired me to shoot the Promotional material for the Bank of America's Chicago Marathon based on my skateboard shooting abilities. It was beautiful.

Which was the first huge success that you can remember?

My first “scary big” success was a Reebok, Crossfit, and Running campaign. It was huge.  I’d turn around from the talent and look behind me at the creatives, Stylists, Production, and the whole support crew, and there must have been forty people.  

I was like, “Ooomph, better not fuck this up, right.  It was fantastic; we had the Crossfit games champions and best runners-up. They had incredible energy, not to mention their beautifully sculpted athletic bodies.  

I loved it; it was so much fun. A dream job, really, and it came from a Tough Mudder I shot in a “war photographer style. “ I was one man banding then too.

What’s the biggest opportunity for you and your company in the next year?

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We’ve just kicked off research for a documentary. I’m excited about all the opportunities for new work with heroic talent on the way to the final project. 

Can you explain your team’s creative process? What makes it unique?

My partner comes from an international business/banking background. She loves research and analysis and brings a valuable and wholly different next-level perspective to the process of creating based on her diverse experiences and knowledge of the world.  

I bring 30 years of photographic expertise focused on sports & adventure, human emotion, and empathy to the process. Together, we can walk with giants.

How does your team remain inspired and motivated?

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By taking care of the business part of the business, we are freed up to collaborate and create. It’s a lifestyle of living with the desire to create and collaborate. There is more “found art” in the world than is imaginable. Stories of courage are everywhere. 

This is what inspires me. The street athletes, the mountaineers, the fighters, mavericks, the non-conformists, and people who take risks to improve. Life is full of possibility and adventure if you put yourself around those characters. Those who test themselves and transcend can’t help but inspire.  

And then there is the fun stuff—those who have found a way to laugh and love what they are doing. I want to be part of all of that. Moving to LA from NYC and spending so much time re-exploring the West has been inspirational.

How has COVID-19 affected your company?

For sure. Work ended, which allowed me to learn new skills and tools and really up my video game. In many ways, it was a boon for development and growth, a very “Phoenix from the fire” style.

Which agencies do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

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I’m turned on by creatives and agencies taking chances and trying to inspire their audience. We all know that advertising and marketing are participation games, so why not snuggle up to the audience and hug them and have fun with it.

What is one tip that you would give to other agencies looking to grow?

Be funny, be risqué, be charming, be intoxicating, be sexy, be smart, if it’s not a “hell yeah,”  then it’s not a thing, right? Make the work that you would like to see. It’s all about risk and reward as far as I’m concerned. Make people feel alive☺

How do you go about finding new clients/business? (Pitching, work with retainers, etc.)

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I think of is a secret mission. Somehow I need to get in front of this person or that agency. I ask myself what steps I need to take so there is no chance of failure. It’s something I learned watching and training British SWAT teams.  

They were fastidious in their approach and preparation. It was incredible. Also, my partner is a secret weapon in finance and marketing, so that helps a ton. Our Venn diagram has an excellent broad-spectrum overlap. She sees the world from a different perspective.  

What’s your one big hope for the future of the industry?

That creative minds are allowed to be creative. When you buy a ‘little black number,” you don’t take it to a tailor and ask them to make it less sexy right?

Do you have any websites, books, or resources that you would recommend?

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Rob Haggart’s Aphotoeditor.com is fantastic, as is Komyoon.com, and obviously, you guys at Creativepool.com are such an excellent resource for connecting people. It’s all about the spider web connectivity☺

I read a ton of biographies. There is much to be learned from other humans who have gone before us. Sorry, that’s not super helpful. I'm not very webby☺ 

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