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Images Of The Day: Invisible Portraits - A Unique, Decidedly Different Take On The Power Of Celebrit
October 12, 2012
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As far as being a celebrity, Julia Roberts once said "there's this big wheel of pictures and articles that goes around, and you get pinned on it."

In a lot of ways, she's bang on - especially in today's culture. It's not just the National Enquirer anymore.

Now, with the internet, social media, the paparrazi, and gossip sites like TMZ and Perez Hilton, it's almost impossible for today's stars to escape or have some degree of anonymity.

Well, renowned photographer Chris Buck has a new book of portraits that takes the power and cult of celebrity and turns it on its head.

Buck, who's originally from Toronto and is now based in New York, has been taking pictures professionally for 24 years - photographing some of the leading actors, artists, and historical figures of our time.


Now, he's put together his first book called 'Presence: The Invisible Portrait'.

In it, Buck photographs 50 celebrities from film, art, music, literature, food and beyond, including Robert DeNiro, Jay Leno, Russell Brand, Kathy Griffin, Nas, Ringo Starr, Anthony Bourdain, Cindy Sherman, Paul Anka and Tracey Ullman.

Except for one thing - you don't actually see the celebrities in the photos.

They're in the scene but they're hidden, so effectively they're present and absent in their own portrait at the same time.

There's no digital manipulation. And just so you know it's all legit, each celebrity signed a witness statement that's displayed next to their portrait.

Here's a video of Buck explaining the project.

Buck told us "I had shot many celebrity pictures that had already pushed the boundary of a "normal" portrait - not showing a face, or the subject very small in the frame - that I wanted to see if I could take it one step further."

"I initially expected the series to be pretty dull," he said. "But when I got back the film for the first session, William Shatner, I was delighted by how charming the actual picture was - with amazing textures and subtle shifts of colour throughout the shot. I knew then that I was onto something."

The photo on the main page is Seth Rogen. The one at the top of this page is William Shatner. Here are some others.

Snoop Dogg

After this shoot was done, Snoop Dogg told Buck (as only he can) "I'm going to make a new record and we're going to have the best producer and do the full packaging but when you play the disc, there will be no sound."

Sarah Silverman

Jon Hamm

"Viewers tend to start off taking the "Where's Waldo" approach with the pictures," Buck told us. "But by halfway through the book most people will just look at the title (the celebrity's name) and then let that guide their interpretation of the photograph."

"It's about how the background or narrative behind the making of a photograph alters the way we view it."

Tracy Morgan

Amy Poehler

But what if people don't "get it"?

"If people are introduced to Presence in a way that it's clear what they're looking at then they will likely "get it," Buck says. "That doesn't guarantee that they'll like it, or consider it worthwhile, but they could at least understand what I am getting at."

"I think that knowing my background in doing "traditional" celebrity portraits helps to frame the project, viewers then get some glimpse at the thinking that could have lead to a series like this," he says.

"My hope is that it will be perceived as playful, as well as seriously intended, and perhaps this will keep it inviting to viewers."

You can find out more about Buck's book at

It's also available at and and at TYPE Books and other book stores in Toronto.

There's also a launch party/book signing tonight at TYPE Books in Toronto from 6pm-8pm.

You can also buy Collector's Edition prints at

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