Mark Seliger

On how to take a photograph.

Evan Smith: This is a really busy time for you. In addition to shooting for various glossy magazines, you have a new book out that’s a retrospective of your last twenty years as a photographer. And you have a record out! You’re a true multiplatform guy.

Mark Seliger: The music has been interesting. It came unexpectedly through writing songs on planes while I was traveling a lot for Rolling Stone in the late nineties. I’d probably written three or four songs before I started playing in L.A. I had a 45-minute show with my band, Rusty Truck. I’d been doing a lot of work with Lenny Kravitz—

ES: You did a book with him, right?

MS: Yeah, but this is when we were just starting on a couple of projects, probably in 2000. He heard us play a couple of songs, including one in particular that he liked called “Broken Promises,” and he said, “Man, I love that song. I want you to come to the studio in Miami and let me produce it.” And I was like, “Sure, sounds really fun.”

ES: Most wannabe musicians just talk about it. You actually did it, and you went out and played, and you made a record. You took the big step.

MS: It was quite a commitment. I was leaving Rolling Stone and moving on to Vanity Fair and GQ. In the interim I started to focus on finishing about a dozen songs, and it took the next couple of years to find the right producers for them. People I’d worked with had taken me through Record Making 101. This was going into the studio and saying, “Okay, I’m in Recordland right now,” and relinquishing the control that I usually have.

ES: You put yourself in the hands of people who knew more about this than you did.

MS: Absolutely. Probably one of

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