Tag Archives: Personality

Behind the Cover: Photographing Super Mario

Like many famous athletes, Italian soccer player Mario Balotelli has developed a reputation for outlandish behavior. But photographer Levon Biss was not worried during his recent TIME International cover shoot with the star, who is currently playing for the British football club Manchester City.

(Read More: Mario Balotelli: The Infamously Mercurial Brilliance of the Soccer Star)

“His personality is very shy, actually,” said Biss. “He wears outrageous clothes and sometimes on the football pitch he does outrageous things, but as a person he is not outrageous, he is very, very shy.”

The shoot did get off to a slightly rocky start when Balotelli arrived at the studio Biss had set up at Manchester City’s training grounds. “He walked in and there were 12 or 13 people in there,” Biss explained. “I think he got quite nervous and walked straight back out again. We had to wait another half-hour for him to come back.”

Despite the delay, the shoot eventually went off without a hitch. To compensate for Balotelli’s discomfort, Biss focused on stylized portraits, rather than action shots. “He looks quite interesting, so you don’t need to do much with him,” said Biss. “He’s got quite a brooding character, so we tried to enhance that with a bit of red lighting and keep the images quite graphic.”

This is not an unusual approach when photographing athletes, who unlike actors and other celebrities, said Biss, are not used to performing for the camera. “These are sports people,” he said. “You have to hinge on what you can do photographically instead of relying on them to come through with a shining personality.”

Biss makes sure to work fast and use a straightforward, no nonsense approach, similar to what his subjects would encounter on the field. Most importantly, Biss, said is keeping the sessions short and sweet.

“They want to be out of there,” said Biss. “If you can get on their side by saying ‘look we’ve got an hour but we can do this in half an hour,’ you are automatically their friend and they will give you what you want straight away.”

Levon Biss is a London-based photographer and regular contributor to TIME.

Behind the Cover: Bill Clinton Photographed by Mark Seliger

Nearly 20 years after he photographed Bill Clinton during his first term in the White House, Mark Seliger reunited with the former president earlier this month to produce this week’s cover of TIME.

Clinton had just come off an electric speech at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, and his energy was palpable during the sitting. “He had a lot of enthusiasm about the big week, and he looked on top of the world,” Seliger said. “You could see it in his personality and his approach to life that he was content and very jovial.”

Seliger with Clinton at the cover shoot.

Seliger with Clinton at the cover shoot.

Fittingly, Clinton makes the case for optimism—and how things are improving around the world—in his cover story. To illustrate that idea, Seliger had Clinton hold a simple and elegant globe as a prop during the sitting. “There are tons of photos where Clinton is smiling—he is naturally a very inspiring and happy person—but I wanted to show a more introspective moment because he is someone who has changed the way we see and do things, and I felt it was my responsibility to connect with him that way,” Seliger said.

The idea of photographs having a backstory and meaning served as the inspiration behind Seliger’s new online video series called Capture, which features photographers talking about their work alongside notable people outside of the industry, such as Clinton and musicians Mick Jagger and Willie Nelson. The latest episode even featured photographer Martin Schoeller talking about his breast-feeding cover shoot for TIME.

Seliger’s own sitting with the former president isn’t a likely contender for Capture, though. “I wish I could say I had a chance to get philosophical with Clinton, but it didn’t happen,” he says. “I had just 15 minutes, and it was all about work.”

Mark Seliger is a photographer based in New York City. See more of his work here.

Emanuele Cremaschi

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“Since some thirty years ago, with the coming of the commercial television and the loss of the neo-pedagogical one, we are witnessing a specific phenomenon on Italian screens: the codification of a single female model that schedules the annulment of the personality, the plastic surgery of the body, the must of appearing young and healthy.” – Emanuele Cremaschi, introducing Casta Diva, Beauty Pageant in Italy

Photographer #237: Michael Donovan

Michael Donovan, 1977, USA, is a self-taught, highly productive, New York based fashion photographer. Even though photography was always somehow in Michaels life, whether it was shooting for the yearbook in highschool or working for the college newspaper, it wasn’t until 2009 that he decided to try to succeed as a fashion photographer in New York. After spending 15 months working on his portfolio he felt the time was right to market himself in 2010. He wants to show people in their most smart, involved, sexiest, real, fun, raw and strongest moments of their personality. The following images come from his portfolio’s Give and Take, Free to be Human and Facts of Life.


Website: www.michaeldonovanphotography.com