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.

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Photographer Jesse Frohman On One of Kurt Cobain’s Last Photoshoots

All images by Jesse Frohman. Used with permission.

The assignment was to photograph Kurt Cobain and Nirvana for the London Observer. Jesse Frohman had everything ready to go for an 11am shoot on location, when the call came in that he would have to photograph the band in the basement of the Omni Hotel, which wasn’t the agreed-upon location. Moreover, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain was hours late for a five-hour shoot, and when he did arrive, he was high. This, however, didn’t hinder Frohman, an accomplished portrait photographer who had worked for Irving Penn, a legend in his own right. The shoot at the Omni Hotel led into Nirvana’s iconic Unplugged in New York concert with MTV. Now, more than 20 years after Cobain’s death, Jesse has compiled that shoot into a book, “Kurt Cobain: The Last Session.”

You can check out more of Jesse’s work on his website. But we talked to Mr. Frohman about the last iconic session nearly 20 years later.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited and condensed.

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Police Discover 35 New Photos from Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain’s Suicide Scene



In some of the weirder news today, Salon is reporting that on a wound that hasn’t really closed. Years and years ago, Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain committed suicide. Recently the police briefly re-opened the case and found four rolls of film that were never developed from the crime scene.

The images on the rolls are of objects around the house and scene–but not of Kurt himself. Some of the images are of things like chairs while others have more important subject matter like Kurt Cobain’s suicide note. According to CBS, the case was re-opened because it has been 20 years this year since his death. While no other major details are added to the case and the actual crime itself, the details that it brought out were taken quite artistically according to Salon.

Time is saying that there are loads of new details like how Kurt wanted people to know it was him who killed himself. But he also deeply hated his wife.

We previously talked to two photographers who photographed Cobain: Jesse Froham who did Kurt’s last studio shoot and Steve Gullick who toured with the band. Check out the interviews for more. But also be sure to check out the CBS News segment after the jump.

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The Nirvana Diary: Photographer Steve Gullick on Photographing The Legendary Band


All images by Steve Gullick. Used with permission

“NIRVANA entered my life in October 1990 when I heard ‘Sliver’ on the John Peel show, the deal was sealed upon hearing the beautifully brutal session they recorded for John’s show and their first London headline performance at the Astoria theatre that same month. At the time I was a photographer for weekly music paper Sounds, it instantly became my ambition to work with the band.”

Think about a single band that you’d want to photograph. Steve Gullick has photographed Nick Cave, The Prodigy, Patti Smith, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters and many more, and his photos have appeared in The Times, Mojo, Rolling Stone, Wire, Q and NME to name but a few. But Gullick fell in love with Nirvana back in the 1990s and went on to have the opportunity to photograph Kurt, Krist and Dave and their crazy times. Steve is releasing “The Nirvana Diary” soon, which he describes as a photograph journey of the times that he spent shooting the band.

April 5th, 2014 will mark 20 years since Cobain committed suicide and who helped further a genre of music that changed everything to come after it. And Steve’s photos take us back in time to when he was still around.

Be sure to also check out Steve’s Facebook Page, Twitter and Instagram. Plus, you might digg his personal project on the images and his Loose Lips Sink Ships project.


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Photos from Kurt Cobain’s Last Photo Shoot

Last Kurt Cobain's Photo Shoot by Jesse Frohman (5)

All images by Jesse Frohman. Used with permission

Very recently, Rolling Stone did an interview with Jesse Frohman–the last photographer that had a formal shoot with Nirvana’s famed frontman Kurt Cobain. The account of the event, which is featured on Shooting Film, give us an inside look at how both a photographer works in a situation gone wrong and how Kurt Cobain acted. According to the story, Drummer Dave Grohl (who would later front the Foo Fighters) and Bassist Krist Novocelic both showed up on time and ready to work. But Kurt showed up hours late and the first thing that he asked for was a bucket to puke in.

Jesse was angry throughout the shoot, but states that Kurt was extremely nice and that he had to turn Kurt into a human mold. Kurt never liked to look glamorous either–and as many know he was a heavy drug user.

We got permission from Frohman to share the images. And they’re after the jump.

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