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.

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Jimmy Fallon Baby Leak

Jimmy Fallon is a good sport. Nothing else to be said here.

Stunt baby pees on Jimmy Fallon.

Jimmy Fallon is a good sport. Nothing else to be said here.

Can a single person do a Beatles homage. We tried.

Can a single person do a Beatles homage. We tried.

It is great to be part of Variety Magazine‘s re-design, thanks Bailey Franklin.

Posted in Behind The Scenes, Editorial, On Set, Photography, Videos | Tagged , | 1 Comment

On Joining Instagram

My recent post on Instagram. From a Brooks & Dunn concert, 1994. Shot for Michele Romero & Entertainment Weekly.

A recent Instagram post. At a Brooks & Dunn concert, 1994. For Michele Romero & EW.

I’m excited to report that I’ve joined Instagram. I will be now be part of that unholy mix of photos of lunch, ironic landscapes and Holga-filtered observations of everyday life.

As much as I’m tempted to show endless snaps of a certain three-year-old redhead, I plan to use Instagram as a feed for my 25+ years archive of work, featuring weird and wonderful pictures that have never before been seen. I’ll be posting one photo a day for a year, and then well, who knows. 

Come join me.

The_Chris_Buck on Instagram.

Elmore Leonard, photographed in Detroit 1998. Posted as a rememberence on the day of his passing.

Elmore Leonard, photographed in Detroit 1999. A remembrance on the day of his passing.

Me as "Johnny Ringo". Inspired by Lorne Greene's Country-Western hit "Ringo" I asked Ringo Starr to dress as a cowboy for our 2007 shoot. He passed, but I couldn't.

Me as “Johnny Ringo”. Inspired by Lorne Greene’s Country-Western hit “Ringo” I asked Ringo Starr to dress as a cowboy for our 2007 shoot. He passed, but I couldn’t.

David Hanson & Kbot, shot in the parking lot of House of Pies, Los Feliz, Los Angeles, 2003.

David Hanson & Kbot, shot in the parking lot of House of Pies, Los Feliz, Los Angeles, 2003.

My first Instagram post, just dipping in the toe. Greg Ginn of Black Flag shot for my Rock Stars Footwear series, 1984.

First Instagram post, just dipping in the toe? Greg Ginn of Black Flag, from my first series “Rock Stars Footwear”, 1984.

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The Hasselblad Snapshot

Olive Buck likes ice cream.

Olive Buck – two things can elicit this smile: swimming and ice cream (rarely together).

I have literally thousands of pictures of my daughter – buried away in folders on my computer.

So this summer I decided to go back to film. Putting aside any arguments about the value of film vs. digital, there is something magical when a family snapshot is on film. And it just so happened that we’d planned a vacation with my siblings and parents in Thousand Island Park NY giving me plenty of material.

I was worried that as soon as I picked up a serious camera I’d go into work mode (not compatible with vacation mode!), but since I haven’t shot my Hasselblad for a job since the late 90s it didn’t happen.

Instead I got some delightful photos of my family, and also got in some swimming, a few gin and tonics and finished Mark Maron‘s great memoir, Attempting Normal.

My wife, Michelle Golden.

My lovely wife, Michelle Golden.

Flynn Burgess receiving a henna tattoo from his father, as the pieta.

Flynn Burgess getting a henna tattoo from his father, while re-creating the pieta.

Sequoia Buck and Olive on the front porch.

Cousins on the front porch, Sequoia Buck and Olive.

Patrick Burgess gives my dad a haircut.

My brother-in-law Patrick Burgess gives my dad a haircut.

Olive reaching

Olive Buck reaching the United States.

Luckily, she wasn't on my shoulders the entire week.

With the Hasselblad in action (luckily my daughter wasn’t on my head the entire week).

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Daily Show coup d’état

Chris_Buck_John_Oliver_380_2

I’m pleased to be part of GQ’s summer comedy issue – my portrait of The Daily Show’s John Oliver opens the special section. As a preview of John’s 3-month takeover of the program we quizzed the new host on his favorite dictators – including which despots he’d draft for his soccer team.

Directed by Chris Buck
Shot & Edited by Jimmie Armentrout III
GQ Photo Editor: Justin O’Neill
GQ Staff Editor: Freddie Campion

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…or shaped like a Blogg!

Dr_Seuss_Blogg

The origins of blogging, found in the 1973 Dr. Seuss book “The Shape of Me and Other Stuff.”

Posted in Behind The Scenes, Family, Inspiration | Tagged | Leave a comment