How Photographer Mark Seliger Captured This Iconic Photo of Jennifer Aniston
25 years after they first worked together, photographer Mark Seliger still calls Jennifer Aniston "one of my favorite all-time subjects to talk about."
The famed photographer, known for his Rolling Stone magazine covers and Vanity Fair Oscars portraits, first met Aniston in 1995 at the height of Friends mania, when he photographed her along with the cast of the show — and ended up capturing a now-iconic shot of the actress.
That photo, along with 24 other prints of Seliger's celebrity portraits, will be going on auction to help relief efforts against the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The photographer has partnered with RAD (Red Carpet Advocacy) and Christie's as part of the RADArt4Aid campaign to hold a virtual auction, with proceeds from the sale of each print going to the charity of the famous subject's choice.
The prints include portraits of Amy Schumer (who is sending proceeds from her portrait to Middle Way House), Oprah (who is advocating for New York Cares), and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (who is raising money for Direct Relief). Aniston, for her part, is supporting The National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics, which is providing testing to the medically underserved.
RAD's co-founders, Carineh Martin and Arianne Phillips, told InStyle, "We are so proud and humbled to have partnered with Mark as the producers of RADArt4Aid. He is the beating heart of this campaign, which is designed to celebrate his purpose as well as his portraits."
“As female founders, we are also thrilled to highlight the incredible women who have joined us in support of their charities," Martin and Phillips added. "RAD works with badass talents and brands to support charities who are fighting every day to help people in crisis. These women regularly use their voices and platforms to help others and it’s truly an honor to join their advocacy for these incredible charities."
Seliger, who went on to photograph Aniston and the rest of the Friends cast several times over the years, described her as "a very down to earth, funny, easy person to work with."
The two of them came up with Aniston's pose together, and rehearsed the shot before Seliger captured what became one of his most famous photographs.
"That pose was something I’d worked out in a pre-light, and I thought it would keep it very organic and classic feeling. I wanted to have a sense of formality to it, and the pose just seemed to work out really well," he says, adding that Aniston's "brilliant" hairstylist Chris McMillan had styled the now-renowned Rachel cut "just right."
"We shot a lot of different pictures, but that one really seemed to be the great takeaway," Seliger tells InStyle. "It was a breakout time for her, and [the photo] really showed her as this very open, strong person. I think it kind of captured who she was."
Of his working relationship with Aniston over the years, Seliger says, "It’s so much about trust and connection, and that’s kind of who she is. If she doesn’t like something, she’s going to tell you; if she loves something, she’s going to sing your praises. We just have a good batting average. It’s a process of making interesting imagery and she’s particular, but very open to sharing her ideas. She’s always been like that. I’ve given her a lot of crazy ideas, and she’s always been open to trying, even though some of them don’t work out. She’s always there and very willing to go along with it."
For Seliger, who has spent his time in self-isolation photographing New York City's emptied-out streets, revisiting his archives and selecting portraits to auction off has been a gift.
"That’s the ultimate sense for me of being successful, is when somebody loves the work you’re doing and wants to have it for themselves," he says. "Going back in and connecting with all the artists I worked with, asking if they wanted to be involved — it was an affirmation that everyone wanted to do whatever they could to give back."