I’m obsessed with the idea of printed photo books. If someone were to look at my while I peer at them, they’d notice the fascination in my face — synonamous to the way a dog looks at a bone. And it’s only now that I’ve had some time to look at Mark Seliger Photographs, a book by the famous photographer compiling a ton of images that he’s done throughout his career. But unlike other photo books, these aren’t just any photographs — they’re Mark Seliger’s. He’s not just any photographer, he’s a master that’s incredibly capable and who is bound to be one of those regularly studied and taught in educational academies. Lots of YouTubers don’t talk about him because they just don’t get it; but they all acknowledge how gorgeous his images are.
Mark signed my copy years ago, and even gave me a bit of heat when I asked him a challenging question after he gave a talk. Later on, he apologized to me about it — more or less explaining that it’s basically just marketing. And I get that — it’s a sign of an artist from a very specific time period. Demeanors like that don’t really work with every audience of every age, and only time and therapy will tell to see how that works as a strategy. Even though the demeanor might not work, the photographs do.
Mark Seliger Photographs is a combination of beautiful photographs that you want to stare at endlessly and images that are ultimately ruined by pagination issues. When the pagination is perfect, each and every photo will be worth the breath that they take away from you. When the pagination utterly ruins the images, you’ll feel like saying “well, at least you tried,” while still acknowledging that the images are stunning. Seriously, why do some images need to be split down the book fold instead of giving them a dedicated page? Despite this, the photographs are so beautifully selected and made to look great with the paper that it’s forgivable. Oh yeah, and there’s a short interview with him posed in Q+A format very simply to start in the beginning of the book. But after that, this is through and through a picture book.
The images are in both black and white. To view them best, we recommend paging through the book while illuminating it with window light. Prop the book up a few inches to make the light diffused as much as possible. The pages have a slight sheen on them and will surely have issues with reflections. So you’ll need to mitigate that. I also really recommend standing up while paging through it depending on how high your table is. Ultimately, the book should be around waist height so that you can take in in the images fully for what they are.
We’re here mostly to talk about the photographs. Throughout Mark Seliger Photographs, you’ll find images of the various celebrities that he’s photographed over the years. Some are still with us, while others aren’t. Many are easily recognizable. The book has a combination of black and white images along with vivid, sumptuous full-color photographs. If these were in a museum, you wouldn’t be able to touch them. But because they’re in a photo book, it’s easy to touch and feel the prints. They all feel the same, and the quality of the print itself has nothing very special vs something made in perhaps a darkroom or somewhere else. But the images are worth peering over for hours and hours.
Of course, he work has influenced that of many photographers. One of which is the one behind the Living Heroes project that we featured a while back.
Should You Buy Mark Seliger Photographs?
Any photographer that wants to get into portraiture and doesn’t want to have the same look that everyone else does on Instagram should pick up this book. Technically speaking, they’re worth looking at the light and how seamless and natural it all looks. Artistically speaking, there are lots of moments that are worth celebrating. Both sides of your brain will come out of this experience well nourished.
You can pick this book up on Amazon. We’re giving it five out of five stars despite the issues we have with pagination.