Award-winning photographer Marco Grob is making his mark in advertising and editorial circles with his high-impact fashion and portrait imagery. To satisfy his high-end commercial clients—Adidas, Tag Heuer, BBC, ARD, UBS, Nike, and Louis Vuitton—and editorial clients—GQ, Vanity Fair, Marie Claire, Elle, Vogue, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Zeit Magazin—New York-based, Swiss-born Grob has relied on Hasselblad equipment exclusively throughout his career.
I have photo assignments all over the world, so it’s helpful to have local agents where I work. I currently have agents in five countries—the U.S., Russia, South Africa, Germany, and Switzerland—although I live and do most of my work in New York City. It’s a Mecca for photographers. I love it! I also work frequently in Russia because I like the way the Russian teams work: quick and pragmatic, with great flexibility and improvisational skills. They are very professional. My Russian agents—sounds like a Cold War movie, right!—Anush and Elena, are amazingly competent.
Shooting editorial spreads or fashion ads, I prefer to keep things simple and fast. Very fast. I photograph the way I feel. I don’t think about it and intellectualize my work. I have learned that speed is a key factor for capturing intimacy. People get bored very quickly so I have to finish before that. I like to reduce the whole chain to a minimum. The crew, the equipment, the light, even the catering. I hate overgrown productions.
Throughout my career, I have relied on Hasselblad equipment exclusively, since I bought my 500C in 1992. In 2003, I bought a Flextight scanner, which traveled with me all over the world. I still consider this the best investment I’ve ever made. Being able to digitize my negatives, for the first time I could keep control of my work throughout the process. My career made a giant leap forward. I worked hybrid for two years then started shooting with a Hasselblad Imacon 132C 22-megapixel back with an H2D. Now I use the H3Dll-39. You would have to kill me to go back to analog. I’ll never go back.
Like the H2D, the H3Dll is a perfect tool. I’ve never had a better camera in my hands. To me, the H3Dll doesn’t make the workflow any faster, to be honest, but the files are even more beautiful and have less moiré than those from the H2D. The picture quality is mind-blowing. I shot 8x10 for years then digitized the images on a drum scanner. The quality of the H3Dll-39 images is actually better. It’s also a very easy camera to use. Until this day, I have never read the user’s manual.
The H3Dll, as the H2D, is a perfect tool. It’s very intuitive. You can do all changes in exposure without taking your attention away from the subject. I cannot tell you how important this is. It is also very reliable. I had 160,000 shots in harsh conditions on my H2D without needing service. The 120mm macro, with mind-blowing sharpness and resolution, is the perfect lens for my portrait work. I also use the 80mm, the 50mm, and the 35mm lens often.
As a Hasselblad Master and VIP this year, I receive all the gear and technical support I need. Hasselblad is also very keen to hear my thoughts about possible flaws and bugs, which is a great way for them to gain knowledge and honest feedback. Being one of five Hasselblad VIPs this year has opened the door for new projects, including an upcoming portrait project where I will photograph those who worked for NASA from the beginning of manned space travel through the current day to possibly the future.
I also look forward to working on my long-time project, “Enemies,” which portrays former enemies of different wars of the 20th century —WWII, Vietnam, Korea, Iraq I-II, Afghanistan, and Sudan. “Enemies” will include generals, soldiers, politicians, men, women, and children who fought—and fight—on all continents. It will be shot on location, in a studio-like environment. Along with an editorial part that documents the stories and contrasts the different war theaters, the work will result in an article, a book, and an exhibition that will be broadcast simultaneously in Moscow, Berlin, Hiroshima, and Washington, D.C. It is a very ambitious project, but I simply have to do this one!
Whenever I have a big assignment, such as photographing a $13 million Ferrari, I have to trust my equipment and not be distracted from the subject and the shoot. With the H3Dll-39, I have a digital workflow that is reliable, flexible, seamless, and successful.NASA took Hasselblad to the moon. What’s good for NASA, can’t be wrong for me. Since buying my first 500C 16 years ago, I’ve never touched anything else. Hasselblad has never let me down. We’ve shot in deserts, in the wintry cold of Russia, on boats, helicopters, in wind, and rain. It has always worked perfectly. It’s become a part of my life.
Text: Alice B. Miller