The world knows Chris Buck as incredible portrait photographer who has shot every celebrity you can think of from presidents to pop stars. The stories that come out of those photo shoots are some of the most fascinating, funny and insightful ones I’ve ever heard. All of those amazing photos and stories are captured in his new book UNEASY but we will to more of that in a minute. When I think about Chris Buck I always have to start at the beginning when we met in October of 2009, and I learned a really important lesson – never agree to fly to Houston to judge an Art Director’s Award Show so your wife can see her best friend.
Judging those awards was one of strangest things I have ever been a part of and the opening reception alone could have been taken straight from a Wes Anderson script. The evening started with me standing in a small, nearly empty art gallery, owned by a man who used the ashes of multiple cremated people to create incredibly bad art (see for yourself), holding an invitation that had my name prominently misspelled as I waiting for one of my co-judges to finish his biographic presentation that was supposed to be 5 minutes but was about to cross the 30 minute mark. As I stood there waiting, a thin man slowly walked up to me and introduced himself as Chris Buck. I recognized his name as one of the other judges and asked him what he did for a living. I will never forget his simple and unassuming reply of “I take photos.” Given the less than stellar caliber of what I had seen from the other judges I didn’t give it much thought. The first judge finished his bloated presentation, and I went to the front of the room to give my 10-minute talk about my background. When I was done, I found a seat on an incredibly uncomfortable folding chairs near the back of the gallery. Chris Buck went next and started to go through some of his work and something else I will never forget happened – I realized he was responsible for some of my favorite photos of all time, but I never knew the name of the photographer who shot them. After the presentations finished we talked about both living in New York City (though Chris will never let me forget that living in Westchester isn’t New York City), that we were both were there as an excuse to see friends and that we both needed to fake an excuse to leave this horrible event.
After a quick explanation to our host that our jobs needed our attention, we quickly made our escape back to the hotel. We sat at the bar, ordered some appetizers and had a few drinks to get to know each other. We have been friends ever since, and it made that whole surreal weekend worth the experience.
I admire Chris for a lot of reasons and he is someone who is more than a colleague in that crazy business but a true friend. Our lunches are always inspiring adventures into some of the more interesting food scenes in NYC. Our collaborations have resulted in work that I will always be really proud of. And just hours after I had been laid off from Starwood I put a downtrodden post on Facebook feeling sorry for myself. Minutes later I got a text from Chris that read “What the fuck are you doing? Take that down now!” At a time when I had lost all my bearings and was questioning a lot of things about my career Chris was the only person who showed up with unquestioning support and it was just the kick in the ass I needed.
His incredible body of work and the stories behind them are captured in a new 368-page hardcover book with 338 color and black-and-white photographs, from 1986 to 2016. He is funding the book on Kickstarter with a campaign that has rewards that range from a copy of the book all the way to having Chris shoot your portrait which will be included in the book. His work is amazing. His stories are amazing. I have no doubt this book will be amazing so do yourself a favor and get a copy now.