Having a dressmaker for a mother, Marco Grob grew up surrounded by glamorous magazines such as VOGUE and Harpers Bazaar, which stimulated his initial interest in photography. Although he then became keener on films, the lack of a film industry in Switzerland and the prospect of an adventurous career shooting celebrities confirmed his decision to become a photographer.
"Nevertheless," he says, "being Swiss, my parents thought that I should at least have a serious career as a back-up in case the photography didn't work out, so I studied mechanical engineering. But the moment I finished my degree - at 5.30pm on 25th of April 1985 - I was off to start my photographic career!"
"I had to learn my job from scratch," he says, "but that was fine as I wanted to know everything about photography and wanted to do everything. By spending thousands of hours in the lab perfecting techniques, I actually became quite a good black and white printer. Looking back at it today, however, I think that, to a certain degree, it was time that I could have used in a more beneficial way. I am, after all, a photographer, not a printer. To imagine how photographs could be and then to bring them to life - that's my job."
Marco, whose major clients now include Levi's, Adidas, Louis Vuitton and Zenith Watches, takes his inspiration from the likes of Richard Avedon, Irvin Penn and Nigel Parry, and sees the key to his success as being his own self-motivation to create the best possible picture. He continually strives to generate, as he puts it, 'some kind of magic' through his photography, an attitude that delivers superb photographs but which also, by his own admission, puts him 'under lots of pressure' and means that he is 'never satisfied' with his own work.
To date his most interesting assignments have been the shoots he's done for clients Levis and Zenith, and he's currently working on a campaign for Levi's in Japan, China, South Africa, Venice and London. While he is happy to leave the planning of the assignments to his agents (if he handled the planning, he says, it would be a 'disaster'!), he remains in complete control of his camera system - a Hasselblad H2 with a Hasselblad digital back.
Marco started using Hasselblad camera systems as soon as he could and, although he hasn't touched a 35mm camera in ten years, he has never stopped using Hasselblads, because, thanks to their reliability, optical excellence and speed, they have never, ever let him down. As he succinctly puts it, they are 'the best'. "I know it sounds like a cheap ad," he comments, "but - good for Hasselblad - I really mean it!"
Coming as he did from an 'intense' black and white background, latterly working with an Imacon scanner and negative film, it took a long time for Marco to become convinced about the merits of digital photography, but he now 'loves the quality it delivers'. Like many converts, however, having made the crossover, he's never looked back: "One day in New York, I had dinner with Raymond Meyer, one of the most successful photographers at the time. A known perfectionist and quality fanatic, he told me that he had been working fully digital for the past couple of years - and that rang my bell! I tested and ordered my Hasselblad H2 and digital back the same week and have never gone back to analog since!"
While he certainly has no regrets about his choice of career: "I love it and think I'm incredibly lucky to be able to do what I do," he does wish that he'd changed the subject matter of his work sooner: "I've only been doing what I like best - photographing people - for the past four years. Before that, I concentrated on still life and automotive photography and I sometimes regret that it took me so long to make the change."
When asked what advice he'd give to a young photographer starting out, he passionately declares: "Fight for your stuff! Give everything and hope it is enough!" At the same time though, while formulating serious plans for the development of his own career - what he wants to achieve, which agent and what clients he wants to work with - he never forgets to include that other crucial aspect - when to take a vacation!
For more examples of Marco's work, go to www.marcogrob.com