Chris Buck

ryanloewy: Irving Penn, photographed for the RyanLoewy.com…

ryanloewy:

Irving Penn, photographed for the RyanLoewy.com refresh

On this day 98 years ago, the incredible Irving Penn was born. Penn would go on to become one of the most recognizable and prolific photographers of the century, having shot countless covers of Vogue in addition to working staff for the publication, which eventually garnered him clients such as Clinique and Issey Miyake.

In addition to his fashion work, Penn developed a signature approach to both portrait and still life that would in turn influence a wealth of photographers, myself included. 

Penn was once quoted as saying, “Photographing a cake can be art”.

I am proud to share my portrait of Irving Penn, which will be on display at the Smashbox Studio’s assistant show June 25th alongside my portrait of Chris Buck, as well as announce that my refresh for RyanLoewy.com is finally live. Have a look.

Photographer friend Ryan Loewy was visiting my apt recently and I showed him one of my scrapbooks from the mid-nineties. There were a few items related to Irving Penn (one of my obsessions at the time) and he asked me to scan a page from a Vanity Fair article for him. 

I emailed it and didn’t think about it again until he showed me this image he’d created with it. I couldn’t believe it – hilarious, surreal, and strangely charming all at once. I’m honored that Ryan’s portrait of me will hang alongside this wonderful photograph honoring Penn (and cake).

I’m Stressin’It’s not like I see Kendrick Lamar as the Mick…

I’m Stressin’It’s not like I see Kendrick Lamar as the Mick...

I’m Stressin’

It’s not like I see Kendrick Lamar as the Mick Jagger of our time, this picture on the cover of a David Bailey’s book just got stuck in my brain and I couldn’t get it out. When Sally Berman and the editorial staff over at Mass Appeal presented my ideas to Kendrick’s Top Dawg team I’m not sure that this one was even mentioned. 

The shoot was challenging, in a strange way. They said “yes” to most everything, and were super nice and fun to work with, so much so that it was causing me much stress. I work best with some tension and with everyone being so chill and happy it got to making me nervous. 

Ultimately I recognized that a sitting with Kendrick Lamar is an amazing opportunity and that’s what inspired me to stay focused on my end game of making some great photographs. (And I still had a little fun.)

Second Image: Prop Stylist Mark Helf on standby while Kendrick is bemused with a knife in his mouth. Behind the scenes photo by Lou Noble. And thank you to Israel Mirsky for the added sword play.

3D LikenessI’m fascinated by how platforms like Instagram to…

3D LikenessI’m fascinated by how platforms like Instagram to...

3D LikenessI’m fascinated by how platforms like Instagram to...

3D LikenessI’m fascinated by how platforms like Instagram to...

3D LikenessI’m fascinated by how platforms like Instagram to...

3D Likeness

I’m fascinated by how platforms like Instagram to allow people to share photography so easily and readily. I think that it’s also going to play a big role in direct marketing in the future. I know that this exists now, but it’s in its infancy. I think that we’re going to see almost every entity in the marketplace, from music groups to fast food companies, creating and maintaining feeds to connect directly with their audiences.

This is one of the reasons why I’m excited about rolling out an Instagram centric series. I’m calling it Likeness. I have accumulated over 75 images, and a dozen videos, with this ten inch 3d figurine of myself. I’ll be releasing one or two a day until they run out, then there will be a short-run book of the best ones. It will eventually live on my main website as well. 

I didn’t have any specific ambitions when I first walked up to the Doob pop-up in Chelsea Market a couple of months ago, I just knew that I had to do this. The low-key and friendly staff there showed me some sample figurines and told me a little about the process. They gave me some tips on how to get the best results – get at least a ten inch figurine to ensure good detail (yes), wear some color as it renders nicely (no, thank you).

They take me into this round white booth, with dozens of DLSR cameras focused on me, mathematically set to photograph all angles of me at once. I position myself, look at the appointed spot, and they count to three. “One, two, three…” and flash! The 3d photo is taken.

It’s actually many photos, and they show me a mix of them on a laptop to see if I approve of the pose. After a few tries I’m satisfied and it’s sent to the rendering company in Brooklyn. 

Nine days later it arrives via the mail. I open the box and it’s amazing – it really is a crazy 3d version of me. I take it out and put him standing on my desk. Of course I take a picture with my iPhone, and that’s when I know what I will do.

Five Tips for Becoming a Professional PhotographerMuch of the…

Five Tips for Becoming a Professional Photographer

Much of the conventional wisdom on to become an advertising and editorial photographer is wrong, so I’ve written up five tips that counter the common narrative. It’s exciting to meet young people who are creative and driven,  nothing would make me happier than to see them thrive as professional shooters.

1. Don’t go to College

More and more I’m meeting emerging photographers who are saddled with over 100K of college debt. My advice to young people – skip photo college. You can learn everything you need through books, mentors and short-term courses.

It will be a more challenging road, requiring openness, experimentation, and plenty of trail and error but the dividends are astronomical. Imagine spending your twenties with the freedom to live and work anywhere you wanted without a crippling debt hanging over you demanding a substantial and regular income.

College is great but spending $150,000 to be a photographer is insane.

2. Don’t be a Photo Assistant

Photo assisting is a procrastination tool. One can make amazing money in their mid-twenties as a photo assistant – and have fun and strange experiences on a variety of photo sets – but what you won’t be doing is building a creative foundation that you’ll need when it’s time to get serious in your early thirties. The longer one waits to transition out of assisting the harder it will be – one goes from making great money to no money (at least initially).

A better choice would be interning for a great photographer for a season or two, you’ll be immersed in the world that you want to be a part of, and have the license to ask lots of questions.

3.  Don’t Move to New York

I’ve met more than one young person who told me that they moved to New York to be inspired and be a part of a creative community only to find themselves feeling isolated and exploited.  It seems that there are two kinds of people in New York, those with a vision, and those without who work for peanuts for those who do.

New York (and other important cities like Los Angeles and London) is primarily a marketplace – cultivate your vision elsewhere then bring it to market and show us something new. New York welcomes you – but come when you have something to say.

4. Don’t be Successful

If you’re any good you’ll find yourself at some point as out of line with the culture.  Your clients will be uninterested or confused by your latest work. Go with it, as it means that you’re onto something special.

Of course one needs to make a living, so hit the sweet spot for your clients too, but keep shooting the less obvious pictures along the way – this will be the work that really makes your name down the road.

5.  Do be a Hater

I’ve found that I make my most interesting and original work when reacting against a prevalent trend rather than being inspired by some well-achieved work.  When you’re inspired by a great photographer you tend to make some variation on that person’s work.  But when you react against something you set the bar higher, “these folks are getting it wrong, and I’m going to show them the right way.”  For me that means digging deep into myself and asking the hard questions about where photography should be going and how I might help bring it there.

Any Dietary Restrictions?This project required that I bring all…

Any Dietary Restrictions?This project required that I bring all...

Any Dietary Restrictions?This project required that I bring all...

Any Dietary Restrictions?

This project required that I bring all of my experiences and skill sets to the table, and then asked me to up it a notch. The Guardian Weekend magazine was doing an excerpt from Rebecca Harrington‘s new book I’ll Have What She’s Having: My Adventures in Celebrity Dieting and wanted to photograph her as three iconic personalities. A few names were tossed around but when Picture Editor Caroline Hunter mentioned “Karl Lagerfeld” I was hooked.

The budget was modest so we had to be smart and creative in our approach (and we shot at my New York apt to save on location fees!). Luckily two top people from my usual production team stepped up to help, Sacha Harford, make-up & hair stylist extraordinaire, and Ise Michelle White, a fantastic wardrobe stylist.

Top Image: Rebecca Harrington as Karl Lagerfeld.

Second Image: Harrington as Marilyn Monroe, and Jackie Kennedy. Marilyn is holding a William Eggleston monograph (I couldn’t resist a little photo-world joke).

Bottom Image: Ms. Harford uses one of my numerous Kennedy photo books as a visual guide for transforming the author. They did the make-up in my daughter’s bedroom, as it had the best light.