Chris Buck - Turn of the century portraiture

Born in 1964, in the week that A Hard Day’s Night topped the charts, he grew up playing hockey, board games and lots of hide & seek with the neighborhood kids. His father worked for Kodak so he decided to go into the family business and become a photographer. His first photographs were of buffalo. The mammal, not the city. He studied photography at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (1983-1987), working with legendary street photographer Dave Heath (A Dialogue With Solitude, 1965) in his final year.

Chris got his professional start with the Canadian music publications Nerve and Graffiti but soon moved to New York in 1990. He quickly established himself as a sought-after editorial and commercial photographer. His magazine clients include GQ, Esquire, ESPN, New York Magazine, Time, Billboard, Variety and The Guardian Weekend Magazine.

In 2007 he was the first recipient of the Arnold Newman Portrait Prize, and his photography has appeared in some of the world’s most prestigious photo annuals, including 37 works in American Photography over the past eighteen years. His first monograph, PRESENCE: The Invisible Portrait was published by Kehrer Verlag in the fall of 2012. The book feature 50 photographs of celebrities in which they are present, but not visible.

Chris's other interests include making cocktails, drinking same cocktails, researching Richard Nixon, running, and admiring his cat. But his favorite activity is traveling to Portuguese speaking countries with his wife, Michelle Golden. They have a four-year-old daughter.

He has been called “damaged”, and separately, “clever” but Donald Trump put it best when he said to Chris “Make this quick, I have many important people waiting for me”.

Turn of the Century Portraiture

While studying photography at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto professor Murray Pomerance confronted me about my portraits in class one day, asking, “Where does this celebrity obsession come from?” I answered with a shrug and a quip about “having deep-seated problems from my adolescence.”

I wasn’t able to articulate it at the time but there was some profound longing in me to connect with these anointed ones. I suspected that I would never really be able to make that connection, as I desired it, but perhaps with my camera I could carry something of them away with me.

I moved to New York in 1990, largely at the urging of another Ryerson professor, the street photographer Dave Heath. I had built my portfolio around a style of celebrity portraiture that was personal in nature, and it was my hope that the U.S. was large enough, and the pop-culture world varied enough that my interpretation would find a home.

Although still enamored with the famous, I now move comfortably in the realm of the celebrities and pop culture. I feel equal parts critic and fan, and as my mentor Dave Heath suggested to me, I can always protect myself with my camera.


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