South African photographer, Norman Seeff, is perhaps the least known name amongst the great music photographers of the 1970s and 1980s. His iconic images of Frank Zappa and Johnny Cash or of bands such as The Ramones and Kiss are famous, but his name is familiar to only a few outside the inner circle of experts. This is partly due to Seeff’s modesty about presenting his work in exhibitions; partly due to his ever shifting career path; and partly due to his interest in scientific knowledge and his enthusiasm for new things. His love of discovery has kept him working right up to the present; in the exciting area where photography meets film, a field which he has expanded since the 1970s with his innovation and expertise.

In the late 1960s, Seeff arrived in New York in search of creative experiences. It was during this time when he met graphic designer Bob Cato who introduced him to rock photography. Seeff was quite inspired by his subjects which led to the sessions being turned into live performances and interviews. He described the experience as profound and within no time it had a captivated audience that reached as high as 250 people.


The exhibition titled The Look of Sound brings together over 170 spectacular works by Seeff. Some of his subjects for this collection include Joni Mitchell, John Travolta, Steve Jobs, Andy Warhol, Cher and Tina Turner. Seeff explained that over the years of him practicing rock photography, he was trying to figure out trial and error methods of how to get his subjects to loosen up. John Travolta was drenched with a bucket of water and Seeff threw a pie in Frank Zappa’s face.

All his works focused on the exploration of human creativity and the inner dynamics of their creative process. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Seeff explained that he wasn’t really interested in props and that he would rather just place them in front of a plain screen and have a chat - “My whole thing was, ‘It's not about photography – it's about communication’.”

More information on The Look of Sound can be found on the Vastari Exhibitions platform.