09/11/2012 06:13 pm ET Updated Sep 11, 2012

Chris Buck's "Isn't" Photo Series Captures Celebrity Look-Alikes In Moments Of Faux Candor (PHOTOS)

Who hasn't wanted to be a celebrity at one point or another? Fame, red carpet affairs, maybe a yacht cruise every now and then? The life of the rich and famous never appears all that dull or all that difficult.

And if you already looked like a celebrity, would you embrace that role further? Photographer Chris Buck examines that question in a new series, "Isn't", where celebrity look-alikes engage in subtly hilarious activities.

Justin Timberlake's impersonator, for example, is pictured helping a young, Britney Spears-esque woman shave her head. Meanwhile, Oprah's look-alike seems to have eschewed many of her "favorite things," turning instead to cigarettes and cheap motel rooms.

Buck took a minute to answer a few questions about "Isn't" to The Huffington Post, and passed along some whimsical shots from the project, visible in the slideshow below.


Q: What sparked your interest in celeb impersonators? How did you get into it?

Buck: Having done hundreds of sessions with actual celebrities, you can imagine the excitement of working with a "Bill Gates" or a "Angelina Jolie" who will pose anywhere and anyhow I want. But I did try to be measured about it - having few boundaries shouldn't lead to gorging. I did have our Tom Cruise look-alike pose with an iconic Judy Garland album but I avoided anyone sitting on the john or dancing around like idiots half-naked.

Working with the look-alikes is fun (imagine walking through Washington Square Park with "President George W. Bush") but it's actually very challenging as a photographic process. There is nothing that humans are so good at as recognizing faces - it's been key to the survival of civilizations - so I end up bringing my edit of hundreds of frames down to a half dozen just based on how close to the famous face we're getting at in each shot. As someone who usually edits based on subtleties of gesture and composition it's demoralizing to have it be dependant on this new, seemingly arbitrary, factor. But, of course, the most successful images of the series are the ones where the look-alikes are spot-on accurate to their progenitor.

Q: Any faux celeb images you're particularly drawn to?

B: I first shot a Michael Jackson look-alike for GQ, then Maxim gave me a monthly slot to do some. After a few months of working with them, I got to push for a wider variety of personalities - like Pope Benedict XVI and Steven Spielberg (who I couldn't talk them into and had to do on my own). In the end it really came down to who the talent agencies happen to have good likenesses of - I would have loved to had done a Robert DeNiro one but the people available to play him were goofy, smirky impersonators, not actual look-alikes.

Q: Anything else?

B: There is something magical about someone being a look-alike and not the real thing. Sure, showing them in an absurd or intimate situation can make for a exciting photograph but as one looks through the series, image by image, there is delight alone in seeing this range of regular people who so resemble the greatest achievers in our culture.



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