Saturday, July 29, 2017

Chris Buck

Chris Buck, Parkdale, Sept. 1989

IT'S MY OLD FRIEND CHRIS BUCK'S BIRTHDAY TODAY and I'm posting some old pictures of him as part of a tradition I began with this blog. We're both 53 this month; it's not a round number or one that looks particularly significant on the page, so there's not a lot I think I can say about it except that it feels neither young nor old. Somewhere between the parlour and the kitchen of middle age, the front door behind our backs and the back door in sight.

As I said when I began this tradition, I probably photographed Chris more than anyone else I knew (with the possible exception of my roommate Sally, who I was constantly pressing to hold up colour grids for film tests.) We'd use each other as guinea pigs to test out new cameras or lighting setups, and these two shots were taken just a month apart. The photo at the top is probably the closest thing I ever got to a nude in my career; I'll let you decide if that's a pathetic admission.

Chris Buck, Parkdale, Oct. 1989

The next shot was part of my struggle to master high key lighting; I've posted a frame from this shoot before. As much as these were tests of cameras or film or lighting, they were also an opportunity for each of us to experiment with how we presented ourselves to the camera. Chris would become much better at it than I ever did; I have never overcome my unease on the wrong side of the lens.

The final shot is recent, taken in the middle of our day long epic hang in New York City earlier this summer when I came to town to see the Irving Penn retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It had been a big year for Chris, who had published a thick monograph of his portrait work just before Christmas. Walking through the Temple of Dendur, I impulsively asked him to stand between two statues of Sekhmet, the Egyptian goddess of healing. I have no idea if that means anything. Happy birthday, old friend!

Chris Buck, Temple of Dendur, NYC, July 2017

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