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A legendary photographer who’s worked with The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell and Blondie, Norman Seeff possesses a vast body of album artwork. Teri Saccone checks his CV


Norman Seeff gets all kissy kissy with Ray Charles during a shoot in 1985

Although his name may be unfamiliar, the images Norman Seeff created are instantly recognisable, his designs and photography appearing on hundreds of album sleeves across a variety of genres.

Seeff’s expertise at capturing the essence of his subjects is derived from his innate warmth and openness. His career transpired in an organic manner, similar to the spontaneous approach of his photo sessions.

Norman Seeff’s background is pretty extraordinary. He was born in 1939 in Johannesburg, and became the youngest professional football player in the South African national league at the age of 17. A consummate multi-disciplinarian, he then studied medicine, becoming a doctor practising at a Soweto hospital emergency unit, specialising in PTSD.

In 1969, he emigrated to New York, partly to leave the mayhem of Apartheid-era South Africa, but also to pursue a more artistic career path. Despite his highly academic past, Seeff never trained in photography. To him, the artform is essentially about having an emotional connection with people.

Seeff learnt early on, “to observe, pick up signals from my subjects and quickly build a relationship with them to get the best photo.” He started out on the streets of New York City, where he took shots of people who caught his attention.

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Long Live Vinyl - Jun 2019 - The Stone Roses
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