Photographer Mark Seliger Talks About Photographing P. Diddy and Kurt Cobain

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Image by Mark Seliger for Vanity Fair. Screenshot from Video. 

When a big rap star doesn’t like your vision for a photo, how do you convince them to go along with it? That’s part of one of the stories that photographer Mark Seliger told to Profoto about his photo session with P. Diddy for Vanity Fair.

Profoto has a continuing series with Mr. Seliger where they talk to him about how he created iconic images of famous celebrities. The series, entitled Iconic Images, isn’t very salesy at all, but instead focuses on Mr. Seliger telling stories.

The idea for the shoot with P. Diddy involved presenting him as the King of New York. When Diddy came to see the throne in Times Square at midnight, he told Mark that he didn’t like it. Considering how yippy some rap stars can be, Mark was able to use people skills to convince Diddy to get up there and do the shoot. The final image is one that is completely out of this world and in some ways contrasts Diddy’s more recent business man approach to his outrageous days when he was still known as Puff Daddy.

Then there is also the story of Kurt Cobain, and how he famous grunge rocker wore a T-shirt stating the corporate magazines suck. The ironic thing: the shoot was for Rolling Stone, and they loved it! Of course, editors will love something completely edgy that is bound to sell covers. Inside the magazine though is another very close up and intimate portrait that Seliger describes as Kurt being vulnerable. Indeed, there is a bit of an expression of pain in Kurt’s face–which partially has to do with the way that it was lit along with the expression.

These videos are after the jump–along with one of Lenny Kravitz.

You may also want to see Vanity Fair’s inside look at Marks Portrait studio at the Oscars.