Norman Seeff (South African, b. 1939)
Norman Seeff had a first career as a doctor in South Africa, he left the profession and emigrated to to New York where he switched vocations to become a photographer. Seeff’s photography was quickly noticed by Columbia Records graphic designer Bob Cato. This changed his life, and give him the opportunity to leave an indelible mark in the history of photography and popular culture. After quick success in New York, Seeff would move west, to Los Angeles, to be in closer proximity to the superstars he would shoot. In order to preserve the essence and authenticity he found in street photography, but re-create it in a formal setting, Norman developed a method shooting superstars in a session. Norman’s new approach would involve a cooperative creative environment where photographer and subject would work together to coax emotionally thematic snapshots of the sitter for use in publicity from posters, album covers, advertising and as fine art.
He was as interested in the creative process as he was in the personas of his subjects. Norman Seeff’s sessions became hugely popular, eventually including audiences, and beginning during a shoot with Ike and Tina Turner, included film. The list of celebrities that have sat for Norman Seeff is tremendous and is emblematic of his success as an artist and “rock star” status in the photography world.
Stylistically, Norman Seeff’s photographs look spontaneous with their energy, they are dynamic, and fresh. He is a master at capturing the essence of the individual and the ethos of their stardom. Norman has been vocal about the scale of his photographs, and prefers them to be shown as large as is possible, symbolic of the largeness of the celebrity as a subject matter.