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

Posted in Editorial, On Set, Photography, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

…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

Kobe: The Movie movie

Kobe The Movie Movie Premiere, in this week's ESPN The Magazine Magazine

Kobe: The Movie movie premiere, in this week’s ESPN The Magazine magazine.

The current issue of ESPN The Magazine features a strange story that appears to be documents related to a biopic on the great Kobe Bryant. There are screenplays describing key episodes of his life, storyboards, and even a block-buster movie poster; featured alongside all of this are my “behind-the-scenes” photos related to this film (we ordered a live-sized standee of the man, as a stand-in). The package is beautiful, magical, and just absurd. I’m very pleased that Karen Frank and the ESPN photo team invited me to be part of it.

I’m especially excited to be doing more complex group photographs. My background largely consists of single subject portraits but I’ve always loved elaborate group pictures (like this, and this) so I’m taking on assignments like this with a verve.

Kobe, behind-the-scenes, sort of.

Kobe Bryant, behind-the-scenes, sort of.

Amazingly the "grip" on the left was actually cast, he's not part of my crew.

Amazingly the “grip” on the left was actually cast, he’s not part of my crew.

The elder Kobe and the aged Michael Jordan compare accomplishments.

The elder Kobe and the aged Michael Jordan compare accomplishments.

I’m keen to develop my motion portfolio right now so I invited Rhys Ernst (who shot my Patton Oswalt Wired video) to shoot some footage, allowing us to make a promo teaser for the issue. It’s a bit Charlie Chaplin, with Luis Bunuel thrown in (with all due respect to both figures).

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

My New Vice

The Vice office, as shown in The New Yorker this week - but across 5 columns!

The Vice office, and it’s principles, as shown in The New Yorker this week.

With North Korea posturing in war-like ways one can’t help but think of the genius of Vice. In fact, Dennis Rodman had just returned from his diplomatic liaison with Kim Jong-un when The New Yorker sent me to photograph the principle figures of the company.

I had shot these same three five years before for Wired Magazine, with great results. This is both bad – a lot to live up to with the new session – and good – the Vice workers are respectful and helpful, calling this portrait, “the only good one that’s been done of them.” Helpful means escorting me around their oddball and intertwined offices to find shooting locations, cast staff with suitable haircuts, and stockpile weird knickknacks as possible props.

DPRK may collapse, bringing instability to East Asia, Vice Media may implode, in a glorious self-inflicted way, bringing sadness to HBO, but we’ll always have the photographs from that balmy day in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Much appreciation to Jessie Wender and Whitney Johnson at The New Yorker for the fantastic assignment – and running the best shot from the session!

The iPhone camera delivers. Scouting and casting photos of the Vice offices.

iPhone camera delivers: scouting and casting photos of the Vice offices. Receptionist Ren Potts.

Kaitlyn Weber makes the cut,  Snoop is out, pulled from the shot at the last minute.

Kaitlyn Weber makes the cut, Snoop is out – pulled from the shot at the last minute.

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

Thank You Asger Carlsen

By Asger Carlsen, for the Vice Photo Issue, 2012.

By Asger Carlsen, commissioned for the Vice Photo Issue, 2012.

There are a lot of great photographers working today but Asger Carlsen is one of the very few who’s pictures are truly a revelation for me. Charming and disgusting, magical and frightening. Thank you Mr. Carlsen.

We met a few years ago when we shared a commercial agent. Once we became acquainted we seemed to cross paths often. At the agent’s office he’d quietly approach me, with a shy but mischievous smile, inviting me to see some new photographs that he’d just finished. The work would inevitably be bizarre, but presented in a quiet and dignified way. I’d never seen anything quite like this before.

As we both live in Chinatown we began to see each other there as well, and were soon meeting on Hester Street to go for runs across the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. During our run we’d often talk about art, the photo business and dating. The following interview though was done while sitting down, at the Oro Café in our neighborhood, on the occasion of the release of his second book, Hester.

How did you move from what was, at that time, your traditional shooting style to starting the “Wrong” and “Hester” collections? To be clear, I don’t want to know how you actually make the work, I just want to know more about how they came together as series.

I’ve been known in the past for overworking my images in Photoshop. I keep on searching for something, and looking and looking. I really had extreme patience when it came to editing and post-production. The actual shooting is such a small part in the process of the finished product with this work.

Were there shoots where you’d been shooting something conventionally and then you started playing with the images afterward to see what would happen. How did you move into what became “Wrong”?

It was almost like a copy and paste kind of thing with the stamp tool. There were some eyes that I moved up and it became like this weird face, and that’s how it started.

I was confused about it for a long time. I did these images and I was like “This is disgusting. What the fuck is this?”

I did the images and I didn’t really like them because it didn’t seem very current with my style at that time. It was quite different. I didn’t feel right away that I’d even consider this a photograph. It’s not a photograph in the sense that I go out and set up my light like some Master of Photography who is like, “That’s the image!”

Right (laughs) – in the sense that it’s not made in the camera.

It didn’t feel like a photograph. And I was pretty sure that it was not a good idea to show this to my agent or someone like that because it was so different. This was almost destructive to what I’d been doing prior to that.

By Asger Carlsen, from Wrong

By Asger Carlsen, from Wrong.

By Asger Carlsen, from Wrong.

By Asger Carlsen, from Wrong.

Once you started making the “Wrong” work and collected it in into a book it seemed to change the way you thought of yourself as a shooter and how you perceived your connection to photography.

It changed everything. Even my personality was altered (laughs).

Uh oh.

A little bit, it really became part of my way of thinking because I was thinking about it all the time. Not that I became insane, but I was trying to be something and all the sudden I am going the complete opposite direction.

I was initially focused on being a commercial photographer and then this new work became my full focus. I didn’t become insane but I was just influenced by it.

When you do this sort of work you have to be open to outside things that are happening.

Give me an example.

I don’t want to get into deep water here…this might sound gross. One time I went to the hospital because I had like this thing in my head, and I had it removed.

Like a cyst or something?

Yes, something like that. There was nothing dangerous about it, but shit like this happens as you get older. I was photographing it, and talking to the doctors like, “Whoa, this was on my head”.

But the funny thing is, I’m looking at it, and it has this very certain structure and pieces of hair coming of it. It was really gross. Not long after though, I’m making an image that was like this plastic shape merged with this skin and hair and I realize that this image completely came out of that experience. It wasn’t something where I was thinking about this experience and saying, “Oh I want to make an image like that” but most of it comes out of that place.

By Asger Carlsen, from Hester.

By Asger Carlsen, from Hester.

I love that the photographs are in black-and-white, it takes them out of our time. I can’t tell if you’re working with existing photographs, and changing them, or whether you’re making photographs and combining them.

I can tell you I decided to not be a photographer going crazy looking around for subjects. I wanted to work 100% creatively all day in my studio. Does that make sense?

I just wanted to work with the images, I’m a control freak. I don’t want to be too much a part of the world so it’s perfect for me to stay in my studio.

Asger Carlsen, a self-portrait for Bullett Magazine.

Asger Carlsen, a self-portrait for Bullett Magazine.

Posted in Inspiration, Photographer Colleagues, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chase Online

Chase_Jarvis_live_Chris_Buck

Last Wednesday I had a bizarre and wonderful time appearing on Chase Jarvis Live.

As much as it was an honor to be asked on the real treat is seeing a colleague branch into new territory. Rather than being daunted by the changes in the media landscrape Chase has embraced them – no, he’s actually stepped up and helped shape them. I am impressed by his relationship to the sponsors, his passion for the creatives he invites on and the team that he’s built around himself.

But, of course, the genius stroke is that the show is broadcast live – allowing for a social media build up, and most importantly, an urgency and focus for all on set.

Please enjoy Chris Buck and musical guest Hey Marseilles on Chase Jarvis Live: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/29431950

Chase Jarvis goes in for the shot with his musical guest Hey Marseilles.

Chase Jarvis goes in for the shot with his musical guest Hey Marseilles.

Donuts and champagne, that's how the roll here in the northwest.

Donuts and champagne at 10 AM, that’s how they roll here in the northwest.

Gotta get a shot with the band.

Luckily we share the same taste in wardrobe, makes for a nice group shot with the band.

Posted in Behind The Scenes, On Set, Photography, Press, Press & Media, Snapshots, Videos | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

And Through The Wire

Daniel Lopatin is Oneohtrix Point Never. My latest cover for the U.K. music magazine The Wire.

Daniel Lopatin is Oneohtrix Point Never. My latest cover for the U.K. music magazine The Wire.

There are times when I wonder why I shoot for The Wire. This English magazine that showcases “difficult” music will not be seen by prospective clients in the U.S., and if I’m to be honest with myself, probably not my British ones either. But I understand why when the issue arrives in the mail; with great design, an excellent edit and well printed, my work feels very much at home here – The Wire reminds me why I became an editorial photographer in the first place.

The current issue features Oneohtrix Point Never; my sixteenth story for them, and the sixth cover. I first worked with Design Directors Jon Forss and Kjell Ekhorn, and now with Ben Weaver. All along headed up by publisher (and guardian of the institution) Tony Herrington.

Laurie Spiegel, in her home studio in Tribeca, NYC.

Laurie Spiegel, in her home studio in Tribeca, NYC. July 2012.

Chris Corsano, shot for the New Weird America story.

Chris Corsano, a contact sheet sample from the New Weird America story. July 2003.

Sunburn Hand of the Man, for the cover of The Wire, 2003.

Sunburn Hand of the Man, for the cover of The Wire, August 2003.

Lou Reed, Accentuate The Negative, indeed.

Lou Reed, Accentuate The Negative, indeed. February 2003.

David Sylvian

David Sylvian, Temple, NH, June 2003.

Peter Horn, going Old School, in Queens, NY.

Peter Evans, using old school communications, in Queens, NY. February 2011.

Alvin Lucier

Alvin Lucier, Durham, CT, April 2004.

Yasunao Tone, my first assignment for The Wire, 2002.

Yasunao Tone, my first assignment for The Wire, Summer 2002.

Posted in Behind The Scenes, Editorial, Photography, Tearsheets | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Foley Gallery Gallery Talk

David Lynch, from PRESENCE, 2006

The FOLEY exhibition features David Lynch, PRESENCE, 2006, amongst 12 others.

I’m pleased to announce that this Saturday I’ll be on hand at the Foley Gallery to discuss the Presence exhibition with Conor Risch, Senior Editor at Photo District News. The conversation will begin at 4PM, February 16th, and will be followed by a book signing and libations.

FOLEY is at 97 Allen Street, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The seating will be limited at the gallery, and there are few copies of the book available elsewhere, so this will be a unique event in a number of ways.

Hide and Seek: CELEBRITY SIGHTING, Conor Risch’s article in the August 2012 issue of PDN, was one of the first stories about the project and certainly set the bar high for future pieces. I’m excited to continue the conversation with Mr. Risch.

And, this except from a recent review by DKL Collection frames the exhibition well:

My first, and admittedly infantile reaction to these pictures was to try to break the code, to locate the place where in the bathroom where Robert De Niro was concealed or to figure out how Jay Leno hid behind his car in the parking lot, my brain still wired to maniacally search for the star, to hit the button for the endorphin reward. As I circled the gallery and frustration gave way to failure, I began to see the real power of the images. We subconsciously attribute value to places graced by the presence of celebrities, going all the way back to the George Washington slept here phenomenon. Somehow David Lynch’s back yard, John Hamm’s cinder block parking space, or David Byrne’s office (complete with a flat packed Big Suit) seems full of some kind of special essence; we care more about a hotel foyer because Russell Brand is hiding there or are suddenly more interested in a striped curtain because Weird Al Yankovic is standing behind it.

I think Buck’s inversions are clever and will likely be durably insightful; I can certainly imagine a big museum exhibit of celebrity portraiture ending with one of Buck’s images, deftly pulling the rug out from under the previously contented viewers. It’s a great example of photographing the unphotographable, exposing the quirky passions and fixations that lurk in our minds.

" I like dog heads." David Lynch, photographed for Entertainment Weekly.

” I like dog heads.” David Lynch, photographed for Entertainment Weekly.

Photo Editor Michael Kochman attests to Mr. Lynch participating in Presence.

Photo Editor Michael Kochman attests to Mr. Lynch participating in Presence.

Posted in Behind The Scenes, Gallery Shows, On Set, Personal Projects, Photography, Presence Book, Press, Promotion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dear Mark Eitzel

Mark Eitzel, from our first sitting, 1996.

Mark Eitzel, from our first sitting, and the day that our friendship began, September 7, 1997.

I suppose that it’s a reasonable assumption that over a long career a portrait photographer would become friends with many of his subjects but it’s actually been quite rare for me. A wonderful exception is Mark Eitzel.

I had been obsessed with his band American Music Club, and got to see them play live when they toured their fantastic album San Francisco in 1994. Three years later I was commissioned by his record company to shoot PR photographs for him, and on that day our friendship began.

Early on he told me not to expect much from him, with his busy life touring and making music he certainly wouldn’t remember my birthday, or even be a particularly good friend. But despite his cynicism and self-deprecation (his publishing company was called “I Failed In Life Music”) he has turned out to be a loyal and dear friend. Funny, complex, provocative, and surprisingly sentimental, Mark Eitzel is a rare and special man. I thoroughly enjoy our time together and miss him when we’re apart.

Mark is currently touring his great new album, Don’t Be A Stranger, in Spain and will move onto Ireland and the U.K. towards the end of this month.

I'm sure that there is a story behind this photo of us together but it won't be told here.

I’m sure that there is a story behind this photo of us together.

Mark Eitzel, as photographed for my exhibition at the Other Music Record store in 2002.

Mark Eitzel & the Virgin, photographed for my exhibition at the Other Music Record store in 2002.

Posted in Biography, Inspiration, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sitting President Sitting

A new benchmark, a sitting with a sitting President.

The New Republic, February 11, 2013. I love when the best image from the session is the cover.

When I was first contacted about a possible sitting with President Barack Obama for The New Republic, I was pleased but didn’t think about it much. Until a shoot is confirmed, with a time and a location, I don’t really consider it a booking. But in the days after the initial reach out I found it pushing to the front of my brain and I started to get anxious.

The New Republic magazine was bought last spring by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes who has since been planning a major re-launch, in content, appearance and media platforms. My contact for the shoot was creative director Dirk Barnett, who was overseeing all things visual.

Since there would be many elements that I would have little influence over, I choose to focus on what I could control – the lighting and the conversation. Planning the lighting ahead of time is obviously a key thing, but being ready with something to chat about can be just as important.  In the coming days, as I would fall asleep at night I would play out conversations with President Obama in my mind. We’d talk about our daughters, and I’d tell him about how my three year old refers to the stars and stripes as the “Olive country flag”, which he would find funny and charming.

As the details came in and the shoot became more concrete – I felt good and well prepared.

Creative Director Dirk Barnett carefully follows my instruction to make sure that both myself and the President are pictured in the b-t-s shot.

Creative Director Dirk Barnett carefully follows my instruction to make sure that both myself and the President are pictured. Also shown is top photo assistant Michelle Watt.

The President walked into the Map Room right on time, shook everyone’s hand and came over to where our seamless was set up. I saw that he was chewing gum and asked him about it. He assured me that it would not be a problem for the portrait and I told him that if it did he’d be hearing from me again.

From there we got to work, mostly in silence, and made some fine portraits. After four minutes, twenty-one seconds and eleven milliseconds (one of the WH Communications team used a stop-watch) our sitting was over.

Thank you Mr. President, and may God bless the United States of America.

The session took place in the Map Room of the White House, January 16, 2013.

The session took place in the Map Room of the White House, January 16, 2013.

Posted in Behind The Scenes, Editorial, Family, On Set, Photography, Tearsheets | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments