Chris Buck has been photographing celebrities for more than 30 years. And in his new coffee table book Uneasy, the 52-year-old revisits the faces, places and stories of some of his favorites.
From George Clooney and Katie Holmes to Barack Obama and Donald Trump, every frame peels back the layers of his subjects and gives an honest glimpse into each. Here, Buck shares some reflections on his work — and the people in it.
What’s a fun story that wasn’t included in your book?
That picture of Jay Z, he just wouldn’t do that now. The assignment was to shoot him as if he didn’t become a hip-hop star, that he was just a regular guy still living in Brooklyn.
We shot him working at the local chicken joint — which is the picture in the book — doing his laundry, running errands at the bodega, his SUV being towed, watching TV in the common area. We got a giant extension cord and set the TV with an antenna in the common area of the Marcy Projects, where he grew up. It was a super, crazy fun day. We actually shot in large camera format too, which I don’t know what we were thinking.
It was a long day but it was super fun. Everybody was professional and onboard. It’s kind of a crazy experiment that went well
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Is there anyone you’d like to work with that you haven’t yet? Or someone you have met you’d like to maybe push outside their box?
Well, I can push anyone outside their box, my friend! A person that came to mind recently is the new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He’s someone that I’ve actually met, and I know a little bit socially.
I had a talk with him 15 years ago, and he talked to me afterwards and introduced himself. We stayed in touch a little bit. I’ve not talked to him in probably 10 years. Since he’s become prime minister, I’ve been very intrigued by his blossoming into this head of state. So I think it would be fun to do a shoot with him, just because I’m originally from Canada. I think it would be a curious sort of return home for me.
On reality stars:
I’m very curious about these sort of self-created celebrity entities.
I mean I think obviously, the queen of them is Kim Kardashian West. People like that who are able to establish themselves as legitimate superstars without any traditional markers of achievement. I don’t mean that as a criticism — I think I find her fascinating. I don’t really follow her that closely or watch her TV show, but just on the peripheral of that popular culture, I find her fascinating. I take her quite seriously essentially as a performer or a public personality because she really takes it quite seriously herself, and really works it. She creates different products and what works to different mediums. And obviously there will be many more [like her] coming along, too.