The Wonderful World of Jarrad Seng.
I remember once getting a call from Jarrad, asking if I wanted to come hang out while he took pictures. 12 hours later we were at in the depths of the Perth Hills, so convinced that we might have stumbled into a killers lair that Jarrad text his friend our location so they knew where to come looking for us in the event that we ended up as unwilling participants in a Wolf Creek-esque situation. So why didn't we just go home? Because there was a shot Jarrad wanted....and trust me, it was breathtakingly worth it.
It's not just that he is a photographer but he is a thinker. Despite some of his ideas maybe not being viable (like the time he told me he wanted to ‘gain entry’ into a construction site and climb up some scaffolding with a model and take pictures and the law student in me nearly had a heart attack) you have to admire his ability to push the boundaries that so many in his profession sit comfortably within. His most recent exhibition; A l l t e r v a t n showcases Jarrad’s talent and passion for his work. Hiring a plane to fly over the Icelandic winter landscape, he then decided to hang his camera outside of the plane in the freezing temperature to get the shot. This commitment and attention to detail has seen Jarrad tour with Matchbox 20, Ed Sheeran, Stu Larson and Passenger as their tour photographer. He has also travelled to some of the most remote places on the earth to produce pictures so surreal that your eyes don’t recognize the landscape as planet earth.
We caught up with Jarrad recently for a chat about all things Perth, Nandos and being mistaken for an Asian gangster. Here is the interview:
Why did you turn to / what drew you to photography?
Photography is a relatively recent endeavour of mine, it’s only been the past four or five years or so. But I’ve always had a love of creating things. All my time during high school was spent either making music or filming ridiculously lame prank videos with my mates. We once nearly got arrested for staging a kidnapping by dressing up as Asian gangsters, tying up some of our pretty lady friends in back, and going through the Hungry Jacks drive through. So I guess photography is a way for me to create, and do something I’m passionate about – as a job. An actor friend of mine Nick Boshier said recently - as artists, we just get to play. It’s kind of amazing. Sure it’s stressful, and there’s times it feels like everything you do sucks and you’re not going anywhere. But really, we’re grown adults, and we’re playing. And getting paid for it. Can't ask for anything else!
I adore anything that Pip McManus creates.
Most memorable moment in regards to your work?
When I returned to Tanzania this year I brought back canvas portraits of the children I photographed two years ago. It was a massive long shot, but I really wanted to find the kids again and give them back these images of themselves. It was an adventure, but I found all of them again. It was a surreal feeling handing over the prints. I’m certain these were the first photographs they would have ever held in their hands, or possibly even seen of themselves.
That or the time Rob Thomas licked my face.
Have you ever had a challenging moment with your photography and what kept you going?
Well I did throw up (partly on my camera) halfway through my private aerial tour over Iceland. I think now the exhibition’s nearly over that delicious bit of information can be revealed and hopefully it won’t deter any potential buyers. What kept me going is that I paid thousands of dollars for the flight and I wasn’t going to let some soiled pants ruin my one chance! That sounds so disgusting. Sorry.
Is there anything exciting in the works?
Well I’ve just come home from Tanzania where I captured a new collection of portraits of some beautiful Masaai children in the desert – so I’m hoping to exhibit those early next year. I really want to title the series Children of the Wild but I’m still working out whether that’s offensive or not. Oh and something that is definitely going to be offensive is the next project which I’m extremely excited about but is certainly going to cause a bit of controversy. I’m also about to pick up my Italian takeaway which is pretty exciting.
What/who are your biggest influences?
I don’t actually like to spend that much time looking at other photographers’ work (apart my friends) – partly because I like to keep my own ideas fresh in my mind, and partly because there are some freakin’ amazing photographers out there and it’s a little depressing seeing work at such a level that I’ll probably never reach.
Although I am inspired by many artists working in other fields. Passenger and Stu Larsen spring to mind. Stu is an amazing musician slash nomad and is the guy who convinced me to free myself of everything else in my life and take up photography ‘full time’. And Mike (Passenger) has taught me that if you’re good at what you do, you work incredibly hard, and you treat people right – you will get to where you want to be. Without a doubt. It might take a little time, but if you have the right attitude the opportunities will come.
...PSYCH! Those guys SUCK!!
(just in case those guys ever read this. I can't afford to give them anything else to tease me about).
Where is your favourite hangout or secret spot of Perth?
Umm, does Nandos count? I don’t really have a favourite hang out spot (I have no friends to hang out with). If you need a real answer I guess maybe New Edition? I saw a pretty girl there once. The last time I had to answer a question like this I said Pip McManus’ studio at 140, which doesn’t exist anymore. I can’t say it again because her workspace is now in her new house. Which I haven’t been to. And which would be weird to say. Actually yeah, put that down – Pip’s house is my favourite place in Perth. I like the… flooring. I need to sleep.
The event or exhibition your most excited about coming up in Perth?
Justin Bieber concert probably.
Favourite or most prized piece in your wardrobe?
Oh man, you’re asking the wrong person about fashion. I’ve worn the same clothes for five years. If I had to choose – probably this terrible shirt from the 80s that I found in my dad’s wardrobe. It’s pretty ugly and about ten sizes too big for me. But I like it. There’s something about wearing it which gives off a ‘don’t give any fucks’ vibe which is kinda liberating. Though I know that vibe’s only in my head and everyone else just thinks I’m a dickhead.
The things you can't live without?
Umm… my hair? There have been widespread theories that once the hair goes, I go. One cannot exist without the other. It’s a little like Harry Potter and Voldemort. Wait, but the opposite. Oh I don’t know. WE ARE ONE.
A l l t e r v a t n Opening Night
(Showing at the MYRE building in Fremantle until November 3.)
(Image credit: Kai Ridley)