Earlier this week, I introduced you to a project from Lexus called Fresh Perspectives in which six artists create works in 24 hours based on the themes of Challenge, Empower, and Escape. Now it’s time to take a closer look at each artist and get a feel for their art forms, inspiration and technique.
First up is Brooklyn-based photographer Tod Seelie, who photographs everything from live music to everyday life to landscapes. What I like most about his work is that nothing is staged, overdone, or fake. What Tod sees is what we get.
When did you become interested in photography?
I came to focus on photography from a general interest in the fine arts. I always wanted to do something creative, and eventually it became clear that photography was the best form for me. I also appreciate the ability of photography to document things, people, places, and events to help convey the stories and ideas of things that happen. Examples like Bike Kill, and the raft trips of the Miss Rockaway Armada, are hard to convey thoroughly without the images to fill things in. In this regard I feel that my photos can be valuable beyond just aesthetically, and in this way I can give something back to the people and subjects I photograph.
What were some of the first things you ever photographed?
Pretty mundane things around where I grew up in Ohio. When you first start shooting it isn’t that important what you are photographing, it’s more about learning how you see and how that translates through the camera and onto film.
How do you find your subjects?
I would say I have pretty diverse interests when it comes to subject matter. A lot of it is just documenting where I end up and the people around me (that work ends up on my photo blog suckapants.com and everydayilive.com). In that way a good part of my work is just personal documentation. Another aspect is when I intentionally seek out images that capture the essence of scenes that amaze me, often of pretty normal occurrences in the landscape where nature and the man-made collide and co-exist (which can be seen on ofquiet.com and todseelie.com). Some work is fire, noise and chaos, other work is quiet, contemplative, and often austere. I definitely know what I respond to, and have a loose sense of where to look for it, but it all comes down to being out there following your instincts.
What’s the most challenging part of photographing music? Have you ever gotten hurt in a mosh pit?
I have gotten hurt, both myself and my equipment, but that’s just part of the job. I’ve been shooting concerts for a really long time and there are definitely different approaches and styles. Different people stay in the photo pit and backstage and you get those photos. I’m not interested in those photos. The photo pit’s great when they have them, but it’s rare that I’m at a show that has a photo pit. You have to put yourself where you need to be to get the shot. Half the skill of photography is being in the right place at the right time, with the right equipment to do the job. So yeah I’m going to go where I’m going to get kicked in the head, because otherwise I’m not going to shoot; either do the best job you can or don’t bother.
What are you working on right now?
Currently I am in the midst of editing images from recent trips to Chernobyl, Mardi Gras, Haiti and Burning Man. I’m also preparing to participate in a large-scale installation by the Miss Rockaway Armada in Philadelphia this summer, after I finish touring with Cerebral Ballzy and The Black Lips. Before that I may go back to Haiti for the non-profit I helped start with some friends, Konbit Shelter, and in the meantime am putting together my first book of photography.
Why did you decide to become involved in Fresh Perspectives?
I was intrigued by the idea of interpreting a word through my work and process, and only having 24 hours to do it. I like a challenge.
What was the most challenging part of creating a piece of work in 24 hours?
At the beginning I thought the most challenging part was finding the right location. But as the day went on, it turned out to be severely windy (there was a lot of wind damage all over the East Coast that day), so that ended up trumping the location-hunting.
If you could collaborate with one of the other Fresh Perspectives artists, who would it be and why?
I think it would be fun to collaborate with Robert James. Part of the challenge of photographing people is accessing their character and narrative. I think it would be interesting to work with someone on developing the different aspects of the model’s appearance, since that plays heavily into communicating these traits.
Here’s a sneak peek of Tod Seelie’s art pieces for Fresh Perspectives:
Design Milk has partnered with Lexus on Fresh Perspectives, a series that highlights work by six artists from different disciplines. Each artist created two pieces of art based on three themes — Challenge, Empower, and Escape — and each piece was made within 24 hours. Thanks to Lexus, this project not only supports art but also helps support Design Milk’s efforts to promote emerging artists.