“It’s really enjoyable because it takes the onus off of photographing just portraiture and actually building a story.”

By Balthazar Malevolent


Mark Seliger is a Portrait master. The Texan photographer captured iconic photographs during his thirty-year career from his first pictures for Rolling Stones, then for GQ and Vanity Fair, to his personal collection. Mark Seliger made black and white portraits his signature between his series of political figures such as Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela and Malala or of celebrities including Billy Porter, Kim Kardashian and Leonardo Di Caprio. Mark Seliger's talent will also benefit the music world, with the most influential artists of their time. Below is a throwback to 10 iconic musicians' portraits.

Kurt Cobain by Mark Seliger.

Born in Amarillo, Texas, in 1959, before moving to New York City in the 1980s, Seliger graduated from the Houston High School for Performing & Visual Arts and East Texas State University. He was the Chief Photographer of Rolling Stone magazine by 1992, traveling the globe and shooting for the publication more than 150 covers.

Seliger has worked for Condé Nast since 2002 where he would regularly collaborate with Vanity Fair and GQ as well as Elle, Harper's Bazaar and Italian Vogue shooting campaigns for major fashion houses such as Chanel, Saint Laurent or Courreges. Think of Apple, Dom Perignon, Levi Strauss, Amazon, Ralph Lauren, Ray-Ban and Rolex - the photographer has also been responsible for several unforgettable promotional campaigns.

As for his striking portraits of celebrities, he says, "This is about trust. If you communicate well and report your intentions to them, they will respect you."

Keith Richards: "He is a true gentleman"

"Since the mid-1990s I have been working with the Stones and I probably photographed Keith Richards the most. He's a real gentleman, very wise and very intelligent. He's the best subject you're going to ever get: funny, sharp and engaged."

"The challenge of course is to do something unique because he's always depicted with a cigarette. He once said photographers wanted to kill him because we always ask him to smoke."

Kurt Cobain: "The blueness of his eyes had something very beautiful in it"

"During the Nevermind tour, I first photographed Nirvana in Australia, and it had been very unruly. Kurt arrived in a t-shirt that said "Corporate Magazines Still Suck" and I was quite distressed by what Rolling Stone would have thought. We did run the image as a cover, though, which meant he was very relaxed and cooperative with me the next time I met with Kurt."

"This shot was taken in Michigan, at Kalamazoo. My sister sent me the heads of those vintage dolls, and I bought some rose bushes; we built this little altar and let it deteriorate for a couple of days."

"I'm not entirely sure where my inspiration came from but I think it was from watching Nirvana's videos and listening to their lyrics, the sadness of Kurt's voice and the concern for life, death and decline."

"For doing the picture, Kurt was very spontaneous and there was something very beautiful about the blueness of his eyes and his dead stare. And, two months later, we got the tragic news he'd died. Since that, I have not looked at those photos for a long time."

Mick Jagger by Mark Seliger.Snoop Dogg by Mark Seliger.Elvis Presley by Mark Seliger.Kurt Cobain by Mark Seliger.Chuck Berry by Mark Seliger.Bob Dylan by Mark Seliger.Patti Smith by Mark Seliger.Lenny Kravitz by Mark Seliger.Kendrick Lamar by Mark Seliger.George Harrison by Mark Seliger.
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