| INSIDE WPPI 2014 |
WPPI Keynote Speaker Mark Seliger on the intersection of visual and musical creativity.
By Jessica Gordon
Mark Seliger’s famed career is enviable no mat- ter your chosen genre of photography. For the past 30 years, New York City-based
Seliger has photographed—with no exaggeration—
some of the most iconic portraits of our era. Whether
it be Kurt Cobain’s haunting gaze in 1993 (right), John
Malkovich’s lofty recline with pigeons in 2008 (pg. 78),
or New York magazine’s whiplash-inducing cover of
(nude and tattooed) actress Lake Bell just this year—
the photographer’s work is timeless and consistently
As chief photographer for Rolling Stone from 1992 to
2002, Seliger shot more than 100 covers for the magazine, and now routinely works for Condé Nast publications, including GQ, Details and Vanity Fair.
“I think the most important thing for a photographer
to understand is observation,” Seliger said of his process
in a May 2013 article on New York magazine’s fashion
blog, The Cut. “You can read somebody pretty quickly if
you spend a second and you walk slightly in front. Even
if you’re engaged in a conversation, be aware of what’s
going on with them. Sometimes someone will just
gesticulate or cock their head a certain way, which is a
great starting point of the way you want them to react
in a photograph. Making a great portrait sometimes is
about picking up on those idiosyncrasies and personal-
ity traits that people have.”
In March, Seliger will be taking his perspective on
creativity to the West Coast as the first-ever keynote
speaker at WPPI. Seliger presented a similar multime-
dia program at PDN’s PhotoPlus Expo in October 2013
to rave reviews.
This means Seliger will not only be sharing some of
his favorite images—and the stories behind them—but
also performing with his band, Rusty Truck.
“This came across very organically,” Seliger says of the
Above: A 1993 portrait of Kurt Cobain, taken by Seliger two months before Cobain died.