Memories of a Chris Buck photography workshop

In the process of cleaning out our attic, I came across the notes I took during an Austin, Texas workshop with portrait photographer phenomenon Chris Buck. I eagerly reread my notes and thought I'd share some of the wisdom passed on that weekend. Interspersed are a few photos I made on the first day, which were unlike anything I had previously made.

His guidance and take-no-prisoners approach motivated me to stretch my creativity. We were provided a model, whatever we could could find around the studio we were working in, and the pithy thoughts of a master photographer.

You can’t be careful all the time. Otherwise, you’re just someone’s bitch.
  • Use a light test as a way of manipulating a subject into off-moments.
  • Your job is not to make the subject happy but to make great pictures.
  • Set the vibe on the set to say "This is MY shoot!"
  • I have to follow my instinct. If I want to make dark, introspective photos, I'm going to do it.
I’m more afraid of my client than my subject.
  • Make your lighting as undistracting as possible.
  • Solve problems in a simple way.
  • Connection to subjects is overemphasized.
  • I love working with props. People relax and engage with props because they have something to do.
I just focus on what I want and do what I can to get it.
  • I come in with talking points beforehand and generally speaking, I don't talk about work.
  • (To subject) I can ask anything I want and you can say no to anything you want.
  • To ask permission is to seek denial.
  • Photographers aren't frustrated videographers.