• LightBox

Behind the Cover: How Many People Can Fit Into a Car

3 minute read

We live in a sharing economy, with companies like Uber and Airbnb dominating the headlines and, for hundreds of thousands of us, our lives. This week, this new economy, worth billions of dollars, is on the cover of TIME.

When photographer Chris Buck was tasked with creating the magazine’s cover, he quickly settled on the idea of pilling as many people as possible into one car. “[This shot] is kind of a comic trope that has existed for a long time,” the Canadian-born, New York-based photographer told TIME. “I usually refer to it as a ‘clown car idea’, because it’s a typical circus thing. I think it’s just clever, [and] it sort of hits that spot that I love where it’s strange but also funny.”

Buck started his research with a simple Google search – “as one would do,” he says. Though many of the pictures out there were heavy of “legs and butts and things like that,” for TIME Buck was looking to create something more photogenic, making a point of having his models look at the camera. And that can take a lot of time.

What appears to be a simple picture – albeit an uncomfortable one for the models involved – took more than six hours to set up. But, Buck says, people knew what they were signing up to when they got on the Brooklyn-based set. “My background is in photographing for advertising and [in photographing] celebrities, and in both cases you really serve the idea,” he says. “I want the shot I want, and I’ll kind of steer things the way I want. You learn that you don’t make interesting by being overtly sensitive to the talent.”

Still, on the set, Buck made sure that his models were as comfortable as possible, both physically and psychologically. “[I told them] if they’re uncomfortable, they’ll tell me. If they’re fine, we’ll keep shooting,” he says. “They were pros, and a lot of the credit goes to the models.”

In the end, all complications aside, Buck’s pictures are united by a single challenge: “Let’s squeeze one more in.”

Chris Buck is a Canadian photographer based in New York. Follow him on Instagram @the_chris_buck

Myles Little is an associate photo editor at TIME.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent

The Sharing EconomyPhoto-illustration by Chris Buck for TIME
The Sharing EconomyPhoto-illustration by Chris Buck for TIME

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com