Jarrad Seng has been on tour with Passenger and Matchbox Twenty, photographed the volcanic rivers of Iceland and the children of the Maasai, and filmed videos that have appeared on MTV and BBC1. For all that, however, the filmmaker/creative director/volunteer/traveller has been constantly committed to numerous projects for which Perth has been the focus.
As well as enjoying a reputation as the go-to photographer for many a Perth music creative, Jarrad is also the mastermind behind The Hidden Sound, a series of secret concerts in mystery locations around Perth. He’s helped Propel Youth Arts WA in its development of MOSAIC, a statewide photography project that brings together images captured by the public in one huge exhibition each year. He’s even taken more than 300 portrait shots around the city in just 24 hours, part of the Telstra Perth Fashion Festival Windows of the City competition, something he hopes to take global in the next few years.
Indeed, it’s his photography for which the ‘slashie’ (an apt epithet considering the many day/night jobs he does) has become renowned, with more than 150,000 Facebook and Instagram followers combined. Not bad for someone who first picked up a camera in 2009… but despite this late decision to get behind the lens, Jarrad has an undeniably unique eye for capturing the universal human experience.
“I’d like to think that there is a certain kind of honesty that comes through in my work – whether it’s a portrait, a live music shot or a landscape,” he says. “I guess that sounds kind of wanky, but it’s hard to convey it in words! I love to shoot real people and real life in a way that captures the essence of the moment while elevating it out of the ordinary.”
And that’s exactly what Jarrad did during a trip to Tanzania in 2011. He, along with a guide, visited remote Maasai villages in the Great Rift Valley for a few days. “I was this skinny, long-haired Asian man who had appeared in their village with strange machines. Obviously we didn’t share the same language, which made things a little challenging, though all the more rewarding when we found common ground and connected in other ways.”
The artist showcased the photographs in his third solo exhibition, The Spirit of the Maasai, a heart-warming portrayal of these children from a far-off land, who, just like you or me, smile, laugh, cry and frown. “The Maasai live such contrasting lives to any Western culture, or any people I know. It’s a completely different world. I wanted this to come through in the images, but at the same time show how we’re all just humans, and these kids are just kids, like any others around the world.”
Up next is a project set to highlight the amazing talent we have right here in Perth. And while the exact details are still under wraps, Jarrad says that it’s something he’s long had in mind. “I’ve always wanted to work on a project that showcases the amazing, often hidden, creative talent within our city. Kind of an homage to those local artists who are pushing the boundaries, exploring new ideas, and not settling for the ordinary. Perth’s killing it!”