8 Weeks of Portraits

Week 6 - Mark Seliger

This week's photographer is Mark Seliger.  Seliger got his start shooting for Rolling Stone, and after five years, was named the chief photographer, shooting over 100 covers for the magazine.  He has worked for a number of magazines and famous brands and had made portraits of many different celebrities.    Seliger doesn't have a single style, so it proved to be a difficult assignment.

My usual model wasn't available due to the 4th of July holiday, so I reached out to George Garbeck from my camera club.  George had been looking for some headshots for his website.  Given there are a number of men in Seliger's portfolio, it was a good opportunity to shoot a male model and practice some new techniques.

Two things about Seliger's work stuck out as something I wanted to emulate.  First was a lighting concept called chiaroscuro, defined as the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition.  Seliger often lit his portraits with one side of the face completely lit, and the other in deep shadow, with the light on the background offsetting this by being light on the dark side of the face and dark on the light side of the face.  After having troubleshooting the technical difficulties with my lights, the image on the left is the shot demonstrating this concept.

One of Seliger's shots of Al Pacino was the inspiration for the image on the right.  The Pacino shot had more contrast, but he had his hands prominently in the picture and the background was textured.  I favor textured backgrounds, so I was more than glad to use that look here.

I hope George got a usable image for his website and I'd like to thank him publicly for being a good sport.  I personally got a lot out of this assignment.  I certainly learned that I have difficulty posing men and that I need to get some more practice in that area.  Any guys out there want their picture taken?  Getting the chiaroscuro method down turned out to be more luck than science, so I have more work to do with my lighting.  

Next week's photographer is Frank Ockenfels III.  Tune in next week for some more images!