Buck Move to Tumblr

Chris Buck and William S. Burroughs. A snapshot together after their sitting in Toronto, April 25, 1989.

Chris Buck & William S. Burroughs. A snapshot after their sitting in Toronto, April 25, 1989.

I have moved my blog to Tumblr. To see the rest of my latest post “Beats, Served Three Ways” visit me here: thechrisbuck.tumblr.com

Thank you so much for your interest and support on WordPress but going forward the bulk of my posts will be on Tumblr.

Posted in Archive, Behind The Scenes, On Set, Photography | Leave a comment

Philip Seymour Hoffman

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Philip Seymour Hoffman photographed for Premiere in 1999. I was told later that it was one of his favorite sessions.

Philip Seymour Hoffman photographed in New York  for Premiere Magazine, 1999. I was told later that it was one of his favorite sessions.

I did three sittings with Philip Seymour Hoffman but it’s the time that I had a random lunch with him three years after working together that I find myself thinking about.

Running errands on a spring Saturday I popped into a hot dog joint on Lafayette, just south of Bleecker. A minute after I placed my order at the corner Philip came in. The place was almost empty, so I went up and said hello. He recognized me right away and was friendly, if low-key.

We sat down and ate. He had a cheeseburger and I had two hot dogs wrapped in bacon with hot sauce.

During our conversation I congratulated him on his Best Actor Oscar for “Capote”, which he had received only days before. I told him that he can’t now go off and do stupid big-budget action movies (a common misstep by past winners). He chewed his sandwich for a couple of seconds and then told me that his next picture was “Mission Impossible III”.

Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly, photographed for Time Out New York in 2001. I don't remember even speaking with them - it was so fast moving I was just trying to get it all on film.

Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly, photographed for Time Out New York in 2001.

I don't remember even speaking with them - it was so fast moving I was just trying to get it all on film.

I don’t remember even speaking with them – I was just trying to get it all on film.

He was fun to photograph, and he brought real joy to his performances. He’ll be missed.

Philip Seymour Hoffman photographed at Sundance Film Festival for Entertainment Weekly in 2003.

Philip Seymour Hoffman at Sundance Film Festival for Entertainment Weekly in 2003.

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Inspiration: The Family 1976

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A short time ago, my colleague John Keatley asked me via Twitter what was the favorite photo book that I owned. My response was that my favorite book was neither a book, nor did I own it. It was Rolling Stone’s special political issue of October 21, 1976, featuring 69 portraits of the Washington D.C. establishment by Richard Avedon. This question prompted me to find the issue online and purchase it as a holiday gift to myself. And I couldn’t be happier that I did!

(I actually posted previously on my blog my favorite five photo books here.)

A sample page from Rolling Stone's October 21st, 1976 issue. Clockwise from upper left: Shirley Chishom, George McGovern, Rosemary Woods. Cy Vance

A sample page from Rolling Stone October 21, 1976. Clockwise from upper left: Shirley Chisholm, George McGovern, Rose Mary Woods. W. Mark Felt (coming out as “Deep Throat” almost 30 years later).  Photos by Richard Avedon.

Ronald Reagan, four years before his presidential victory.

Ronald Reagan, four years before his presidential victory. Photo by Richard Avedon.

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Kimmel Sinatra Ketchup

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Shooting with Jimmy Kimmel was a particular treat for me as I’ve been a fan since his Man Show days. I was not surprised that he brought a relaxed demeanor to our brief shoot, but there were also moments of warmth, curiosity and, of course, great wit.

The color palette for one of the shots was inspired by Frank Sinatra cover art circa 1955. I described the shot to Jimmy as such, and then as we took a short break as my assistants adjusted the lighting, he asked me with a serious disposition, “Are you really a Frank Sinatra fan?” I thought that he was going to dismiss or criticize Ol’ Blue Eyes but he actually had a story to tell me.

Sinatra is out to dinner in Las Vegas with his friends Bob Newhart and Don Rickles. It’s a busy restaurant, but also a very fine one.

Frank is struggling with getting the ketchup out of the bottle. He’s banging it this way and that way – getting nothing. Finally, he curses and throws it across the room – the bottle smashes against the wall getting ketchup everywhere.

The room is silent, and Rickles says, “Hey Frank, pass the ketchup.”

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Shooting with Jimmy Kimmel for Variety. Photo by Shelley Lovelace.

Shooting with Jimmy Kimmel for Variety. Photo by Shelley Lovelace.

Thank you to Bailey Franklin and Variety for the assignment – and running the images so well!

Posted in Behind The Scenes, Biography, Editorial, On Set, Photography, Tearsheets | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Toronto The Good

Wrigley's Excel - it's a Gumergency! Shot with BBDO Toronto.

Wrigley’s Excel – it’s a Gumergency! Shot with BBDO Toronto.

Toronto isn’t just the home of politicians with boundary issues, there are a number of fantastic ad agencies there too. I’ve had the privilege to shoot with a couple of them this year.

Most recently I shot the Excel Gumergency print campaign with BBDO. These clever ads, targeting the adult gum customer, feature “Randy Johnson” (actor Jeff Kassel) as a straight-talking bad breath hot-line operator. Creatives Shawn James and Sean Atkinson (partnered to create confusion) were a joy to work with. Funny, sharp and ambitious, I look forward to causing more trouble with these two in the future.

On set with the BBDO creative team Shawn James and Sean Atkinson.

On set with BBDO creative team Shawn James & Sean Atkinson. Photo by Courtney Kelly.

When Taxi Toronto floated the idea of doing a couple of short videos to accompany our Viagra print campaign I jumped at the chance to direct them. And, I’m glad that I did; art director Michael Siegers and writer Rene Bhavnani put their full creative energies behind making them awesome. Even though the budget was modest, with proper attention to casting, location and a super smart script, our spots came together beautifully. Different regions have varying guidelines on how explicit advertising can be, so this was an opportunity for us to have some creative fun.

And, our half print/ half video crew worked together fantastically, making a challenging day of shooting ultimately a very satisfying one. Special props to DP Rhys Ernst.

A frame pull from our 15 second golf spot with actor Dwight McFee.

Our 15 second Viagra golf spot with actor Dwight McFee. Click on this image to play the video.

Actor Peter Snider played our confident, if failing tennis player.

Actor Peter Snider is our confident, if failing, tennis player. Click on this image to play the video.

And, thank you to Jooli Kim, my Canadian agent, for securing both assignments. Yay!

Posted in Advertising, Behind The Scenes, On Set, Photography, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Is Ted Cruz?

Senator Ted Cruz, with a Justice William Rehnquist bobblehead (of course).

Senator Ted Cruz, with a Justice William Rehnquist bobblehead (of course).

When I received the assignment to photograph Texas Senator Ted Cruz for GQ I had heard his name once or twice. Boy has that changed in the last month.

Politics aside, the experience of working with the Senator and his staff was a wholly positive one. They were welcoming and friendly, including offering Dr. Pepper about every 30 minutes (apparently home state giveaways are encouraged in the Senate offices).

The Senator gave me a tour of their offices and told me the stories behind a number of mementos, in particular about his time working for Justice William Rehnquist. Cruz has a quiet charm, and talks in a way that shows a genuine joy and awe with the places he’s been and the people he’s worked with.

There has been a lot of talk of Senator Cruz’s role in the government shutdown and a near universal belief that he lost this battle, and at great cost. But having spent just a little time with the man my guess is that he’ll remain a D.C. presence and will continue to surprise.

The photographer and the Senator.

The photographer and the Senator.

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Passenger Side Window

From Johnny Tergo's fantastic street photography series Passenger Side Window

From Johnny Tergo’s fantastic street photography series Passenger Side Window.

I was recently having lunch in Los Angeles with my friend and photographer colleague Johnny Tergo and he started telling about a photo project that he’s been shooting. With enthusiasm he described how he rigged Profoto strobes onto his pick-up truck and was shooting pictures of pedestrians from his passenger side window. 

To be honest I  figured that it sounded too good to be true, but I looked up the work as soon as I got back to my LA apt the pictures are really cool, weird and kinda beautiful. They work well as portraits but one of my favorite things about them is that they are a great visual depiction of Los Angeles as a city.

I’ve since asked Johnny a few questions about the project via email.

From Passenger Side Window.

From Passenger Side Window.

From Passenger Side Window.

From Passenger Side Window.

1. What are we looking at? (Basically, describe how the images are made).

In the “Passenger Side Window” project you are looking at ambiguous portraits of unfamiliar people in unknown locations.  I consider these portraits of life.  I have constructed a camera/lighting rig on my truck that allows me to take pictures of people and places just as I see them without having to get out of my truck and disturb the scene.  I love the way that people look when they are not apprehensive of being in front of a camera and the rig on my truck allows me to make an image of them in their natural state.

2. What came first, the camera/lighting rig or the portrait series idea?

The idea came first.  The idea has been in my head for a long time, and I have tried various ways of going about executing it.  This current rig has yielded me my most successful  results.  First, I was just using my iPhone to make images shooting out of my passenger side window.  Then I made a mount for my phone which suctioned to my passenger side window and used a bluetooth keyboard to trigger the shutter on the phone.  Then I decided to build a mount for my Canon camera, and eventually I wanted to add lights.  It just progressed very naturally from one evolution to the next.

3. You shoot, but you don’t make your living taking pictures, does that make you a fine art photographer? (I’m teasing you on this one, but you’re welcome to answer the question too.)

Hah… Yeah, I guess so!  I think what REALLY makes me a fine art photographer is that fact that I make images that people enjoy looking at and critiquing  but nobody wants to give me any funds to produce them.

4. One of the things that I love about these pictures is that although they have a life all their own they also very much carry your “Tergo” vibe. Discuss.

I believe that this all comes down to process and consistency.  I have things that appeal to me visually more than others and I try to consistently work those things in to my process.  For instance, I love high contrast and un-natural color so when I shoot I add lights to help with the contrast and gels to the lights to help me shift the color tone.  I also do all of my own post processing so all the work done to my files in post consistently has the same fell as well.  Also, keep in mind that I am not being assigned any work so all of the things that I choose to focus on are things that I choose myself.

From Passenger Side Window.

From Passenger Side Window.

From Passenger Side Window.

From Passenger Side Window.

A photo of Johnny Tergo's truck, with a strobe rigging, for shooting the Passenger Side Window series.

Johnny Tergo’s truck, with a strobe rigging, for shooting the Passenger Side Window series.

Posted in Photographer Colleagues, Photography | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment