Despite their protestations to the contrary, most famous people thoroughly enjoy being photographed. And in the hands of New York photographer Mark Seliger, those portraits usually become works of art. Seliger's collection of black and white celebrity photos, In My Stairwell, has travelled the world. It's sought after by galleries and collectors, not necessarily because of the celebrities, but because of the way he makes his subjects seem normal - quirky, even. An edited version of In My Stairwell was on display in Los Angeles recently at the W hotel in Westwood, which has an area called the White Space used primarily for avant-garde installations and exhibitions. Seliger was on hand, mingling with guests from the worlds of Los Angeles art and fashion and Hollywood. The hors d'oeuvres and signature Gran Centario margaritas were part of the attraction. But the large black and white photos, created using a turn-of-the-century platinum palladium process that endows a rich, dramatic texture, were the centrepiece. Despite the variety of subjects - Mikhail Baryshnikov here, Muhammad Ali there - there was a uniformity to the collection. All were shot in Seliger's stairwell, against a stark, brick wall in his pre-war New York West Village loft on Charles Street facing the Hudson river (the building was once a women's jail). The stairwell, which used to be an elevator shaft, is topped by a 6.5-metre skylight and is now, for all intents and purposes, a miniature studio. Most of the photos were taken between 2001 and 2005 and were the subject of a coffee table book published in 2005 titled Mark Seliger: In My Stairwell. The sameness of the background doesn't detract from the inherent interest of the shots. If anything, the different personalities bring the stairwell to life. Many of the images look as if they were shot spontaneously. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld (above right) hangs from a ladder, as if that's what he'd do even if the camera wasn't trained on him. Country singer Willie Nelson, his hair loose and flowing, wears a long, roomy coat and a forlorn look. David Bowie manages to look both pensive and calculating. With his hair dyed dark and wearing a ruffled shirt, Musketeers-type jacket and tarantula brooch, there's a subtly menacing look to him. Susan Sarandon, sexy and voluptuous, reposes on her back on the floor, in a bustier and lace. Julia Roberts, now a mother of twins with another on the way, looks cheeky and playful, squatting on the floor. Musical couple Elvis Costello and Diana Krall are both in black, seemingly dancing the tango, staring somberly into the camera. Muhammad Ali, in a tailored coat over a hoodie and fingerless gloves, looks like a giant next to Michael J Fox, decked out in Everlast boxing gear and wearing a bemused expression. Seliger, who has worked on shoots for GQ and Vanity Fair and has been chief photographer for Rolling Stone for more than a decade, has published several books in addition to In My Stairwell, including Voices of the Holocaust and Physiognomy. But his stairwell series appears to be his major love. 'It was an opportunity to create a collection of portraits of artists, ranging from peripheral to mainstream, to make a record of our times,' he says. 'The stairwell environment became the common denominator that related the subjects to one another, which they could either make into a personal space for themselves or use as background simply to be documented.'