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|Birth name||Norman Seeff|
March 5, 1939 |
Johannesburg, South Africa
Norman Seeff was born March 5, 1939 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Since moving to the United States in 1969, his work as a photographer and filmmaker has been focused on the exploration of human creativity and the inner dynamics of the creative process.
Early life and career 
Seeff qualified as a medical doctor in 1965. For three years he worked in emergency medicine at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto focusing on the management of traumatic shock. In 1968, he immigrated to the United States to pursue his creative passions and artistic abilities.
New York 
Soon after arriving in New York City, Seeff's photographs of the people he encountered on the streets of Manhattan were discovered by the famed graphic designer, Bob Cato. Cato introduced Seeff to the world of album cover design and his first major photographic assignment for The Band brought him immediate recognition. His early work also includes images of Robbie Robertson, Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol as well as other New York City personalities.
Los Angeles 
In 1972, on the recommendation of Cato, Seeff relocated to Los Angeles to become creative director of United Artists Records where his work in design and photography received multiple Grammy Award nominations.
Three years later, he opened an independent studio on Sunset Boulevard. His photographic sessions soon became legendary and attracted audiences of 30–40 at each session, swelling to over 200 on some occasions. A combination of actor's workshop and a celebration of creative spontaneity, Seeff's sessions were emotionally engaging experiences that resulted in many iconic images with leading artists and innovators of the time.
Seeff's creative interaction with artists inspired him to film his sessions beginning with an Ike & Tina Turner session in 1975. Using the photo session as a vehicle for exploring the inner dynamics of the creative process with artists at work, Seeff has continued this process for over 3½ decades. His film and tape archive of more than 400 shoots with musical artists, film directors, authors, television personalities, scientists, visionaries and entrepreneurs provides a unique insight of artists and innovators in the act of creation.
Television commercials 
In 1990, Seeff applied the spontaneous and co-creative approach he had developed during his photo sessions to working with actors in television commercials. During the 90's, he became an acclaimed, award-winning director of hundreds of national commercials for major brands including Apple, Levi's, Glaxo, Nissan, Toyota, General Motors and Motorola.
Recent work 
Seeff returned to photography and the documentation of his sessions in 2000 working with the stars of Paramount Television, a documentary exploration of the artist's journey for Paul Allen's Experience Music Project and Caltech's many Nobel Science Laureates.
It was the latter assignment that led to Seeff being invited to work with the NASA space explorers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and to the production of his documentary film Triumph of the Dream.
Triumph of the Dream reveals the human face of the Mars Exploration mission that landed two rovers on Mars in 2004. In the film, Seeff uses the Seven Stage Dynamic of the Creative Process he developed in his photo sessions as the underlying narrative structure. Triumph of the Dream is scheduled for release in 2013.
Personal life 
Seeff lives in Los Angeles with his wife Sue Kiel and works out of his studio in Burbank. He has two children. His daughter, Tai Power Seeff, who was his daughter with Taryn Power, is a photographer and his son Shane studies music and filmmaking at Cape Town University in South Africa.
Famous photographs 
1.) Patti Smith & Robert Mapplethorpe 1969 : Seeff and Mapplethorpe met soon after Seeff first arrived in New York and Mapplethorpe asked Seeff if he could airbrush some of his prints. Seeff loved what Mapplethorpe had done and offered to photograph Mapplethorpe and Smith. These shots have been featured widely since the release of Smith's book "Just Kids".
2.) The Band 1969 : Seeff was commissioned by the late Bob Cato to take the liner images for The Band's 1970 release "Stage Fright". However Cato loved Seeff's image so much it became the major design feature of the album as a poster insert. The poster rapidly became a collector's item and helped launch Seeff's career as one of rock n roll's leading photographers and album cover designers.
7.) Rolling Stones 1971 : The Stones commissioned Seeff to shoot an iconic series of 12 images that were featured as an insert of 12 postcards. The postcards are to be re-released in 2010.
9.) Miles Davis 1974 : Seeff shot his iconic image of Davis who at the time was recovering from a throat condition and had just come off stage.
10.) Sly Stone 1974 : Seeff's shot of Sly Stone kissing his then wife Kathy Silva was included in the Brooklyn Museum 2009 exhibition Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present.
11.) Carly Simon 1974 : Seeff's cover shot of Carly Simon dressed in a teddy for her "Playing Possum" album was thought to be 'racy' and was featured in Sheila Weeler's book "Girls Like Us". In fact it came from a series of shots of Simon doing yoga poses.
14.) Ike and Tina Turner 1975 : Seeff was a great admirer of the artistry of both Ike and Tina and many of his shots from this session illustrate the edge in their relationship. This session was the first that Seeff documented on 16mm film.
15.) Joni Mitchell 1975 & 1976 : Seeff had a long working relationship with Mitchell with whom he did 7 sessions.
16.) Frank Zappa 1976 : Seeff photographed Zappa multiple times. The images were used for album cover art (see cover of Strictly Commercial) and were featured extensively in the February 1994 issue of Musician magazine in observation of Zappa's recent passing in late 1993. Prior to his death, Seeff's photos of Zappa and his daughter Moon Unit were also featured in a 1989 LIFE magazine article.
22.) Steve Martin 1977 : This series of images demonstrate the amazing physical comedic talent of Martin early in his career. The images were used as album cover art for his 1977 album Let's Get Small.
23.) Zubin Mehta 1977 : During the shoot, Mehta asked Seeff to play classical music at full volume to illustrate that it could outperform rock 'n' roll.
27.) Rickie Lee Jones 1978 : Taken for Jones' first album release which broke her into the music business.
32.) Curtis Mayfield 1979 : Mayfield wrote an original song during the filmed photo session.
35.) Tina Turner 1983 : Seeff was asked to take a series of images of Turner as she rebuilt her career, launching a string of hits beginning with her 1983 single "Let's Stay Together" which featured Seeff's image on the cover. The photo session with Tina was filmed and featured spontaneous live performances.
36.) Quincy Jones 1984 : Seeff's shot Quincy Jones with his daughter at his home and was featured in the 2009 book "The Art & Soul of Quincy Jones."
37.) Steve Jobs 1984 : Seeff shot Jobs at the Apple HQ in Cupertino, California and also at Job's home in Woodside. These are iconic images of the young Steve Jobs in the early days of Apple's success and one was chosen by Walter Isaacson for the cover of his biography which was released in October 2011. Soon after Job's death, Seeff's shots also ran on the covers of Rolling Stone as well as TIME Magazine(different photos).
39.) John Huston 1985 : Seeff interviewed and photographed Huston for a series on American film directors. One of the photographs from this session was used by Apple for their "Think Different" campaign and appeared on giant billboards across America.
40.) Martin Scorsese 1986 : Seeff photographed and filmed their conversation on the creative process for a series on American film directors.
43.) Bob Fosse 1986 : Seeff photographed and filmed Fosse for a series on American film directors.
44.) David Crosby 1986 : From a shoot with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash.
Record Cover Design & Photography 
From 1969 onward Seeff contributed photography and art directed and designed hundreds of record covers
Ike & Tina, "What You Hear is What You Get – Live at Carnegie Hall": Art Direction & Photography 1971
Bobby Womack, : Art Direction & Photography 1972
George Duke, "Reach for It": Photography 1977
George Duke, "Don't Let Go": Photography 1978
Seeff's first book "Hot Shots", published in 1978, was awarded the New York Art Directors Club Gold Medal for photography. His second book "Sessions" was published in 1988.
- Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. Interview Magazine. Retrieved on 2010-10-02.
- Patti Smith discusses her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe. PBS. Retrieved on 2010-15-02.
- Exhibitions: Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present. Brooklyn Museum. Retrieved on 2010-23-02.
- "Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present". Random House, Inc. Retrieved on 2010-23-02.
- "Girls Like Us". Amazon.com, Inc.. Retrieved on 2010-23-02.
- Norman Seeff Discography at Discogs