What will people think of celebrity photographs of the 21st century? Will they think that they were beautiful? Revolutionary? Boring? In the previous post featuring Nadar's portraits of the 1800, one reader commented how the celebrities of the day are now lost in the pages of history. Will today's portraits be forgotten in the world of tomorrow? At the very least, photographer Marco Grob is making sure that his portraits will stand out in the world of today.
Marco Grob is quickly becoming of the 21st century's most sought-after portrait photographers. Grob first worked as a photographer's assistant before opening his first studio focusing on still life. In 2003, he changed his focus to portraits and ever since then he has photographed some of the most popular celebrities and politicians in the US.
His portraits have appeared in Time, GQ, Vogue and Vanity Fair. He has also done advertising work for big clients such as Nike and Louis Vuitton.
One of his biggest projects that got him attention was the portraits he did for the 2010 TIME 100. From politicians to artists to athletes, Grob traveled to seven cities in six weeks in order to capture the most influential people of 2010. This collaboration with Time Magazine also led to other engagements including a feature on International Mine Action Day and TIME's Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience.
Going over these photographs, there is nothing that is overly idiosyncratic that one can instantly say that it's a Marco Grob; one might mistake a few of these for a Platon, Dan Winters or Martin Schoeller. That doesn't detract from their appeal and significance however. In these images, Grob isn't trying to sell his own style, rather he uses the most recent techniques in portrait photography to get the best shot required of him, and he succeeds in that.
Grob's images definitely employ the trappings typical of this century's portrait photography; extremely tight shots, hard light, monochromatic backdrops. Will these techniques stand the test of time or will they fall out of favor 20 years from now? A similar comparison can be made with Nadar's portrait photographs of the 19th century; while the old look isn't as appealing as it once was, there is no doubt that his portraits are great photographs even to this day. In Grob's case, there's no doubt that they'll still be great portraits a hundred years hence.
Marco Grob's website is here. As of this posting, there's only one publication available of Marco Grob's photographs, and it's not about his being a celebrity photographer of the 21st century, it's TIME Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience. No doubt though that a portfolio of his portraits will be published within the next few years.