Behind the Cover: Bill Clinton Photographed by Mark Seliger

TIME
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The cover of the Oct. 10, 2012 issue of TIME, featuring Bill Clinton photographed by Mark Seliger and prop styling by Rob Strauss.

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.

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