From bank notes to bunnies

Even television psychic Ms. Cleo would’ve had a hard time predicting the twists and turns of Paul Buceta’s professional life. From crunching numbers to posing nude, the banker turned photographer took quite the untraveled route to get there.

His story was so interesting it caught the attention of American talk show Sally Jesse.

“I’m not going to complain and I’m not going to say it’s a hard job… it isn’t,” says Buceta, 40, “but it is demanding.”

He is referring to his job as one of Playboy’s photographers. His anxiety stems from their high standards.

“You get stressed out and start to think ‘this isn’t good enough for Playboy’. Every shot has to be perfect.”

While the chance to shoot for Playboy only comes once for many photographers, this wasn’t the case for Buceta.

“I turned down Playboy the first time they called.”

He explains they wanted his images on film, and since he only shot in digital format he didn’t want to mess it up.

Playboy finally agreed to accept digital files, and since then Buceta’s images have graced several covers. He was even a judge at the annual casting call which took place in early September.

“We found a girl this year… Anne, she’s from Montreal. She’s spectacular,” says Buceta. “I have a feeling she’s going to be a very big find.”

Last year, Toronto model Anissa Holmes was selected out of hundreds of entrants to shoot with Buceta. A photo from that series landed her the cover of Playboy’s Nudes.

Before discovering Hugh’s bunnies, Buceta was a banker for twelve years. So it was a lucky twist of fate when he went into early retirement. He reemerged in 2002 as an actor and model with a curiosity for the Internet’s growing popularity.

Motivated by the money he could make by hosting a webpage, Buceta registered and began developing the site in 2003. This included his online journal, which he continues to update regularly.

“I was a bit of a pioneer — a live journal was kind of unknown,” says Buceta. “At the time the internet and digital cameras were brand new and very few people knew about web design.”

A glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes at a shootTo make his journal entries more interesting, he bought a digital camera and started to add photos. His first photo shoot came shortly after when a friend of a friend asked him to help with her modeling portfolio. The shoot went so well Buceta added Sessions, an online magazine to display his photography, to his webpage.

Sessions is currently in its seventy second volume.

As more clients contacted him about paid photo shoots, Buceta left the acting bug behind and concentrated solely on photography.

“It became a little expensive to go to auditions as the (photography) work came in.”

To date, he has never attended a photography course or had any formal training.

“It’s like Beethoven or Van Gogh. You can teach music or art, but unless you have it, you can’t do it.”

Whatever “it” may be, Buceta has it. This once amateur photographer is now booked five to six days a week, and rarely gets out of the studio before nine at night. His schedule is so busy he has made additions to the team which now includes a make-up artist, director of operations, webmaster and stylist.

“All my clients have come to me by word of mouth, or the website.”

According to Patrick Binetti, the site’s webmaster, they receive just shy of 30 million hits a month. Networking sites like Facebook have provided Buceta another forum to display his work. Many of the models who’ve worked with him have profiles on the site and post their photos which contain his watermark. This has helped with Buceta’s popularity.

“I had always wanted to shoot with him, so when I found he was shooting for the Chin Picnic I was really excited to meet him,” says Jay T*, 21, a model who participated in this year’s beauty pageant. She, like many of Buceta’s fans, saw his work on Facebook first.

“He’s not only your photographer– he’s like your friend,” she says.

“They say I’m like a gay friend to go shopping with, which I hate to say,” jokes Buceta who is actually married with two children.

Binetti, who has been working with Buceta for the last year, echoes Jay T’s sentiments. He says the photographer is upbeat and makes everyone he works with feel comfortable by cracking jokes.

“When I started modeling, I did a spread in Playgirl, under a different name,” chuckles Buceta. “I do a lot of crazy things.”

With that said, it is hard to know what to expect from Buceta in the future. But whatever it may be, you’ll be able read about it on his live journal.

*photos courtesy of