Mark Seliger

Capturing the essence of celebrities, musicians and models, editorial photographer Mark Seliger has shot some of history’s exceptional, iconic portraits, shooting more than 125 covers for Rolling Stone. Born in Amarillo, Texas and raised in Houston, Mark attended East Texas State University where he studied photography and graphic design. He moved to NYC where he became Chief Photographer for Rolling Stone in 1992 and, in 2002, began working for Condé Nast publications, his photographs being seen frequently in Vanity Fair, GQ, as well as Italian Vogue and L’Uomo Vogue. Mark has pushed the boundaries of his artistic talents by exploring a more intimate side of photography in his latest book Listen, capturing life and history with his private lens. Mark has published several other books, including In My Stairwell and has also co-founded non-profit gallery 401 Projects in NY.

How did you come to curate your images for Listen—what do they mean to you personally?
The title Listen comes from the personal discovery of allowing a photograph to present itself rather than controlling or pre-conceptualizing it. This particular body of work is paired down to the essence of the true material. It is a work that has a lonesomeness and sparseness to it. I chose very traditional themes such as still lifes, landscapes and nudes, and this, in combination with the platinum/palladium printing process, gave the imagery the necessary texture and depth.

How do you use a lens to evoke and capture your subject’s very essence and self?
The camera became more of a tool to capture what was already decided. I typically used large format, 4×5 and 8×10, to control the framing, which kept me from veering away from my original intention. The nudes were always a graceful dance of very minimal movements from the models until there was a perfect intersection of their intuition and my direction.

To date, what has been your favorite project that you have worked on?
Probably this one (Listen), but maybe because it’s my latest.

Which photographers or artists have influenced you the most?
There are so many… Bill Brandt, Paul Caponigro, Irving Penn, Eikoh Hosoe, Edward Weston… Kiki Smith gave me an early critique of the work and I’ve always been drawn to her simplicity and her emotional and artistic balance.

– Amethyst Wang

This reading is by Lena, who has no idea this palm belongs to Mark Seliger.

1. This person’s greatest talent is the ability to think in words in any language, but the thought patterns are strongly ordered by the
grammar of the language in which they are thinking.

2. He really tries to act more “normal” than he is for purposes of acceptance in society. In midlife, he will grow out of this and relax into self-acceptance—and therefore actually be more accepted by others!

3. Will be good with money and investments using the same talent they used for gambling. He is not however interested in the accumulation of money—or fame—for its own sake.

4. A collector — of books and other items that interest him.

5. The individual will find it difficult to relax. The undercurrent in their mind will always be narrating.

6. The career will be as a storyteller of some sort. Started doing this young and will continue throughout life to create and tell stories.

7. A great traveler through this world. This person enjoys other cultures, but will have to learn the local languages to understand the nuances of the culture.