Chris Buck on Subject Interaction

After last week's post on taking control during a shoot, a quick follow-up from one of the best in the business when it comes to subject rapport -- editorial photographer Chris Buck.

His approach: Embrace vulnerability over hero worship, then win your subjects over with enthusiasm.

As a bonus after the jump, a second video from one of Buck's more imaginative projects: Isn't.

Clearly, Buck is pretty accomplished at getting his subjects to do what he wants them to do. But what if you had a series of crazy portraits of the uber-famous in mind and you knew there was not a chance that they would go for them?

Simple. Swap out the A-listers for some impersonator stand-ins, and then push the ideas even further.

For another look at how Buck has collaborated with his subjects to make some of his most famous photos, see this feature in

More Chris: website | blog| current portfolio


Brand new to Strobist? Start here | Or jump right to Lighting 101
Connect w/Strobist readers via: Words | Photos

Comments are closed. Question? Hit me on Twitter: @Strobist


Blogger Laurian said...

Man the song in the first video is now totally stuck in my head, can't say i learned much from it...

The second one totally made me smile and made my day!

I wonder if he planned the umbrella because he wanted a scrim...

August 11, 2011 1:12 AM  
Blogger Brendan said...

Did you say crazy portraits or crazy-eye portraits?

August 11, 2011 3:16 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Brendan- Yes, he is the same photographer who shot the Bachmann photo that is currently in the news. But since some people are completely dominated by their very strong political views (on either side) we won't be bringing that discussion into these comments as per the TOS. There are lots of other places for that. Thx.

August 11, 2011 10:16 AM  
Blogger Marc Weisberg said...

Chirs Buck's images are telling stories. A very TELLING vid for sure. Makes me rethink my own approach to pretty pictures. Love the way Chris mixes it up.

August 11, 2011 11:16 AM  
Blogger BdgBill said...

Thats too bad. Although the Strobist is the last place I would want to see a discussion about politics in any form, I think this is an interesting topic from a purely photographic point of view.

I wonder if Buck chose the photo or if he more or less handed over a memory card from the full shoot. Since his niche is getting people to trust him, I wonder if this will hurt his ability to get people to sit for him in the future.

Regardless, I understand if you have a strict "I'm not touching politics with a ten foot pole" policy.

Thanks a lot for the site.

August 11, 2011 12:31 PM  
Blogger Craig M. said...

Wes Craven shoot. How long ago was that? He is shooting an RZ with polaroids.

August 11, 2011 1:27 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Really? That Newsweek cover image doesn't strike me as a Chris Buck shot. It seems too... straightforward? Once I abandoned digital for film photography, Buck quickly became one of my heroes. I love the humor and subtle meanings you can find in his work.

Thanks for making this post, David!

August 11, 2011 1:37 PM  
Blogger kevsteele said...

Chris is buckin' awesome. With his permission he was in my "love, love,love...inspirations" series of posts a few months ago:

August 11, 2011 8:05 PM  
Blogger Rick0r said...

I'd absolutely love to see more articles about subject interaction, specifically direction.
I know it's not strictly "strobist" but it's so important that I'm sure a few people have something to say about it, and are willing to learn.

August 12, 2011 2:59 AM  
Blogger RFS said...

Ignoring the politics, would it be interesting for David to discuss our responsibility to the subject? Off-camera flash is unique in that it gives a photographer the ability to make people look great or really, really bad just by changing the angle of the light. And because of their extremely short duration--as little as 1/38,500 of a second--speedlights are able to capture expressions that people don't even know they're making.

August 12, 2011 1:28 PM  
Blogger kevsteele said...

@Dan- take a look at the current (Sep) issue of Men's Journal: a double spread ad for Farmer's Insurance a few pages in. You would be hard pressed to think that was Nadav Kander, though it is beautifully lit and staged. Not all the work that pays the bills, like Chris's Newsweek cover, goes in the portfolio.

August 14, 2011 3:12 PM  
Blogger Fenix Fotography said...

Regarding the RZ (with Polaroids). Lot's of people still shoot medium format film cameras (the polaroids are for checking the lighting).

I myself just started shooting with a Mamyia RB-67. One reason is to slow down my process and even with a Canon 5d MkII, the other is the equivalent of 60MP from scanning the film (note: I rarely print anything smaller than 24x36 and realize that 99.9% of people don't need this kind of resolution).


August 14, 2011 3:49 PM  
Blogger FishHawk said...

Hi Dave: As per your recommendation I placed an order online to Midwest Photo Exchange for a lovely new Canon 5D, which I need by friday. I have to have it shipped to my country place, which is different from my billing address. They refused to ship it b/c it wasn't my billing address. I am a professional photographer, and have never had any problems having stuff of any price point shipped here. Sorry, but I feel they do not cater to the pro, and you might want to reconsider your endorsement. Sadly and Sincerely, K C Bailey

August 15, 2011 3:12 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


I am sure MPEX would love to sell to you. But they also have to protect themselves from circumstances that have previously resulted in higher instances of fraud.

I do not know anything about you or your particular case, but I do know they (like most web retailers) make those decisions on a variety of factors. I can't fault them that. There are probably better places to resolve it than in the comments section of a post about Chris Buck, tho.

August 15, 2011 4:34 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home