Surprising Portrait

A Chris Buck Workshop

November 10 - 12, 2018
New York, New York


Join renowned photographer Chris Buck for this rare and intimate opportunity, offering an inside view on his approach and process. His guidance and wit will help you develop, deepen, and evolve your photographic voice.

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“My goal for this workshop is that you come away a better photographer, I don't care if you have a nice weekend.”

- Chris Buck

About The Workshop

Nothing charms like a surprise, yet in portraiture there seems to be so little of it. Although the human face is of endless fascination to us, most photographers settle onto the well-trodden path of presenting glamorous or smiling pictures that flatter and soothe their sitters. As Irving Penn said, “Very often what lies behind the facade is rare and more wonderful than the subject knows or dares to believe.”

In this workshop we’ll go through the strategies and pitfalls of executing truly fascinating portraits with celebrities and regular folks alike, focusing on time crunches, shy subjects, as well as confronting your own fears. There will be some discussion of equipment and technology, but most of our time will go into relationships – with your sitters, their handlers, and most of all with yourself and your fears. Assignments will focus on taking ordinary shooting situations and making intriguing portraits out of them, some in-studio, others on-location. It will be exciting and challenging. And, you'll be invited to impress. 

Steve Martin
Donald Trump


About Chris Buck

Chris Buck has been an advertising and magazine photographer for 30 years. He's done sittings with four US presidents, a healthy crop of A-list of Hollywood celebrities and countless legendary musicians. His two books, Presence (2012) and Uneasy (2017), have recently brought him to the public's attention but his pictures have appeared in the photo annual American Photography 37 times since 1997, and he was the first recipient of the Arnold Newman Portrait Prize.

"The elements of a classic Chris Buck portrait are instantly recognizable and often unforgettable: bold colors, crisp lighting, and simple yet slightly bizarre scenarios.

— John Lockett, GQ

"He's known for taking portraits that are striking, tossing aside the veneer of celebrity and portraying his subject in ways that seem to strip them down to reveal their humanity. The results are often hilarious and sometimes haunting."

— Hans Rosemond, Fstoppers


Who Should Take This Workshop?

Professional, semi-professional, or advanced amateurs who are willing to commit to the process and looking to deepen their personal photographic vision. Participants will be expected to fully immerse themselves, take creative risks, and push through personal boundaries in order to raise their work to another level. 

Due to the timing of the program we will execute assignments on digital cameras. Participants should bring a laptop, as well as anything else they will need to process their images and ready them for presentation.



"Meeting Chris Buck is now checked off my To Do list. His workshop was an ass-kicker that had me analyze how I’ve approached my work until now. Most importantly I felt his authentic thoughtfulness toward the challenges I came to workout. Inspired by our conversations and his unreasonable requests, I took risks which to most would be reasonable to avoid."

Saverio Truglia

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What Does This Program Entail?

This will be a hands-on two and a half day workshop with Chris working closely with each photographer as they develop and refine their approach over the course of the workshop. There will be at least two shooting assignments, with corresponding critiques.

Image presentations and discussions will include the business of the portrait photographer, including building and maintaining a working career, marketing, video, and other new technologies (with their challenges and opportunities) but with an emphasis on how to be vital and truly creative in a competitive commercial environment. 



"When I returned from attending the workshop with Chris Buck I felt like I had gone into solitary confinement with my camera and been ass-whipped on the right side of the brain. Chris challenged my ideas of my own limitations, and gave support where needed. We worked from sun-up to sun-down and I didn’t feel like a moment was wasted."

Lisa Kannakko


“I have to say that over the course of the past year, I’ve often referred to a lot of what you taught in the workshop – about creating the pictures you want, about not being afraid to ask, pushing yourself to create something unique. It really is amazing and I credit our brief time in that workshop for giving me this newfound confidence and energy. That tuition fee was the best money I’ve spent in a long time!”

Mike Hipple



Day 1 — Saturday November 10, 8:30 AM to 4 PM
View participants' portfolios, "Surprising Portrait" slideshow, first shooting assignment, lunch, critique assignment, and "Marketing" talk.

Day 2 — Sunday November 11, 8:30 AM to 4 PM
VIP Guest presentation & Q&A, second shooting assignment, lunch, critique assignment, and ”Business" talk.

Day 3 — Monday November 12, 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM
Chris Bucks “Baker’s Dozen” talk (of lessons learned), critique work, and "Video" talk.


Logistical Guidelines

Participants are required to find their own accommodations in New York and come prepared with all of their own equipment and ready to photograph.

Lunch will be provided all three days, otherwise participants will arrange their on own meals.

Meet ups will happen at a studio/office space in downtown Manhattan.

Full Refunds will be available up to two weeks before the start date.


“The greatest benefit from Chris' workshop was seeing how a top-notch photographer approaches the craft of portraiture. The workshop was hands-on and any question was fair game. But I was affected most by seeing the amount of preparation and the level of professionalism that go into making great portraits. It was a stretching experience and it made me a better photographer.”

Rob Culpepper


The Surprising Portrait
November 10 - 12, 2018 • New York, NY

Questions regarding the workshop will get a prompt reply:


Workshop Price: $1550

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