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TORONTO During a recent photo shoot, Alanis Morissette was perched perilously on the edge of a couch in yellow high heels while a photographer issued a simple instruction: just act natural.
Toronto raised photographer Chris Buck has shot the likes of Jay Z, Michael Stipe, Ringo Starr, Jon Hamm, Russell Brand and Steve Martin while being published in such high profile mags as GQ, Esquire and Newsweek.
"Getting celebrities to do stuff is hard," he added. "Some people even said no to doing this (book), which is amazing to me something that's going to take two minutes, and you're not going to be visible."
"(But) most people, they know how to engage with it and make it work . they want a great photograph, and that's what you want."
Well, so it goes. As hundreds of the world's brightest celebs descend upon the Toronto International Film Festival this week, they'll be greeted by a blaze of flashes sizable enough for a Michael Bay movie.
As it turns out, a surprising number of oft photographed celebs similarly shrink from the spotlight.
And so, a camera shy celeb has to develop coping mechanisms to make it through the press barrage that is part of the let's face it, still quite pleasant job.
He's just published a book called "Presence: The Invisible Portrait." The idea behind the project, essentially, is that Buck shoots big name stars including William Shatner, Chevy Chase, Jay Leno and Amy Poehler but gets them to hide so they aren't actually visible in the frame.
And usually, even camera shy celebs are eventually agreeable because they too want the best possible shot.
is key. Since most celebrities are just terrified of embarrassing themselves in a photograph, trust is essential.
think they have their boundaries of what people want to do or not do," Buck said. "But it's a bit of a dance. Because I want a picture that feels different than how they've usually been photographed.
And while the usual assumption is that celebrities have a "good" side Eva Mendes is known to have a preferred profile for photographs, while Mariah Carey insisted on a ban on pictures from of her left side until 2009, for instance Buck says that's actually quite rare.
"I'm not good at being photographed, no," said '80s heart throb and "St. Elmo's Fire" star Andrew McCarthy in a recent interview. "I find it very self conscious.
It's quite common for celebrities to object to the creative ideas devised by the photographer or magazine. Buck recalls asking Billy Bob Thornton to pose at a table covered in potatoes a reference to Thornton's lean years as an actor, when he survived on the nutrient rich veggies and Thornton not only refused, but Buck says the actor asked him not to "mention it again."
He isn't shy about pointing out some of the more, ahem, challenging celebs he's worked with. Kathy Griffin, included in his book, was "very difficult," resisting the set up the magazine had requested and trying to change the way Buck lit the shoot.
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shots. But while many celebrities have grown adept at glittering under that glare, it's a not so secret fact of life in Hollywood that many famous people hate having their picture taken just as much as regular Joes grimacing through family portraits.
Morissette, as charmingly obliging a celebrity as you're likely to find, could just offer a huge grin in response.
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shy celebs have photo
"He doesn't like having his picture taken he really doesn't like it," Buck said. "He's perfectly pleasant, but it's well known he doesn't like having his picture taken. At a certain point, he's like: 'What do you need?"'
"If I can get really comfortable with the photographer then I can close the doors and enjoy the session, and they can bring the best out of me," Glass Tiger frontman Alan Frew said Nike Trousers For Women recently.
Similarly, Buck says David Hasselhoff turned down two of the photographer's ideas one that would have depicted a bloodied Hasselhoff stumbling away from a car wreck, and another that would have outfitted the German actor in lederhosen.
"Some people are great they're just creative people, and they're engaged in the process, (so) you do good work. And other times, people are not into it, and they're jerks about it.
Many celebrities do have go to poses, possibly unnatural body and facial movements that have nonetheless become second nature. Buck pointed out, for instance, that Margaret Atwood is usually photographed wearing a wry grin. When he successfully coaxed her into a different expression, he realized her trademark smile worked better.
De Niro co operated with the idea, eventually consenting to hide in a bathroom while Buck got his shot.
"I mean, I have my picture taken I sit there and grudgingly have my picture taken. Only because I feel self conscious and I don't know how to perform in front of the camera and be relaxed like that."
Buck later pitched Paul Rudd and Vancouver actor Seth Rogen on the same lederhosen idea, and they enthusiastically accepted, eventually appearing in the leather breeches in the pages of GQ.
Once they understood the project, some of his subjects were relieved to avoid the lens.
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