Mark Seliger is one of the world’s most successful celebrity and portrait photographers, with a career spanning decades. From humble beginnings in the 1980s as an assistant in New York City, to Chief Photographer at Rolling Stone, from where he launched his own successful career, there is much we can all learn from him. So when I had a chance to sit down with friends from Phase One and interview him in New York a few months back, I jumped at the opportunity!
Hot off the back of a shoot with his friend Tony Bennett (who had just turned 90, an event Mark specifically wanted to document), we were able to chat about how he got started, his process and what goes into making world-class portraits. Many of us enjoy taking photographs of people, but what would it feel like to have a just a short amount of time to capture something intimate and personal with an incredible performer like Tony Bennett? How does Mark go about getting what he wants from his subject? How is his gear supporting his vision? All of these questions were areas we covered.
In this interview, Mark talks openly about how he got started and what led him to the work he creates, his process for working with subjects like Tony, what the key ingredients are that go into making a “successful portrait”, and how modern gear technology like the Phase XF Camera system he uses is helping him push boundaries with his lighting and technique.
Although I didn’t get to shoot the BTS video of Mark with Tony, it was a true pleasure and honor to shoot him for the interview section of the video, and he graciously gave his time and studio to us.
By the way, if anyone is curious, I lit Mark in a similar way to how he’d lit Tony for some of the close up, in-studio shots using the simple modeling light from the octa which you can just see off to the right of the main camera.
Enjoy the video interview below: