Jarrad Seng Interview | Yellowtrace


Jarrad Seng is a super clever Australian photographer and filmmaker based in Perth. He has a clear passion for travel, music and creativity in general, and people are one of his biggest inspirations. Recently, during a road-trip through Iceland, he tried his hand at some aerial photography. The risk and his effort have definitely paid off – Jarrad’s created a series of stunning images of volcanic rivers and lava wastelands that could pass as abstract paintings. We’re very happy to have him with us today to give us a little insight to this self-initiated project and his creative processes, and to share his throughs on the importance of taking risks.

Jarrad’s debut Sydney exhibition, ALLTERVATN, recently opened at the Art House Hotel, Sydney as a featured event on Head On Photo Festival calender. The collection is on show until May the 31st and all works are available for purchase. Go Jarrad!


Jarrad Seng Interview | Yellowtrace

Jarrad Seng Interview | Yellowtrace


+ What was the inspiration behind taking aerial photographs of Iceland?

I was road-tripping around the coast of Iceland with my housemate in May of last year. We were basking in the most incredible displays of natural wonder – thundering waterfalls, surreal geyser fields, iceberg lagoons. Although as amazing all of these were to witness, the photographer inside of me couldn’t shake the feeling that whatever images I was taking, had been captured thousands times before. I’m not someone who can feel satisfied unless I’m truly creating something unique, so my mind starting wandering to the clouds.

+ What do you love about the project?

My vision for this collection was to create a series of abstract landscape images with a focus on colour and texture – as opposed to any identifiable subject matter. On many occasions throughout the exhibition I’ve overheard people mistakenly referring to the photographs as paintings, which I guess was the response I was after! That said, it would be hard not to create something beautiful with the raw and surreal of the volcanic Icelandic terrain in front of the lens!


Jarrad Seng Interview | Yellowtrace Jarrad Seng Interview | Yellowtrace  

+ Did you learn anything during the process? Would you have done anything differently?

The whole project reaffirmed to me the importance of trusting my instincts and taking risks in the pursuit of art. Aerial photography was something I had never even come remotely close to trying before, so it was a huge risk (both financially and artistically) to charter the plane. What if it’s cloudy? What if there’s nothing even out there? What if I just suck at taking aerial photos? All these doubts! But you know what they say, “If it was easy, everyone would do it”. Paired with my other favourite quote, “Bad decisions make great stories”…. I guess it was a no brainer in the end.


Jarrad Seng Interview | Yellowtrace

Jarrad Seng Interview | Yellowtrace  

+ Any other interesting/ funny/ quirky facts you could share with us?

The flight (and subsequently the series of images) very nearly didn’t happen. I’d been emailing a pilot about taking me around for a flight ‘off the books’, but even after we’d agreed to make it happen… the weather wasn’t on our side. To complicate matters, I was still in the middle of my road trip and was changing locations daily. Eventually, on my very last day in Iceland, I got a call from the pilot telling me that the weather had opened up and to get ready right then. A few hours later and I was in the sky.

+ Tell us about one thing that’s inspiring you lately and why.

Being an artist (whether that’s a painter, or a musician, or a dancer) is possibly the least financially secure career path you could ever choose so it always inspires me to meet and connect with other people taking risks and making hard choices to follow their passions. To name a few cool peeps I’ve met recently on my travels – Adam Elmakias (amazing music photographer), Thelma Plum (sweetheart songstress from Queensland), Pippa McManus (Perth fashion illustrator). All lovely people who are killing it at the moment.


Jarrad Seng Interview | Yellowtrace

Jarrad Seng Interview | Yellowtrace


+ What’s your favourite thing you’ve ever photographed?

This is going to be a bit cheesy and I hope he doesn’t see this but there was this one particular moment I’ll always remember – photographing my friend Mike Rosenberg (aka Passenger) on stage in Dublin. I’d been traveling with him around regional Australia just a year before, sometimes documenting shows where only a couple dozen people might have shown up in a noisy pub. This is a guy who has put everything into his music. For the last five or six years he’d been busking around the world, playing hundreds of tiny shows, working incredibly hard for the sake of music… but not necessarily making any huge inroads. So anyway, fast-forward a year and here he was supporting Ed Sheeran at the O2 Arena in Dublin. Twelve thousand fans in front of him, waving their arms in the air and singing along to his song (it wasn’t even his own headline show). I was standing behind him, off to the side, photographing what seemed like a defining moment. The adrenaline was rushing, I had goosebumps and maybe even a little something in my eye. It just felt like something magical was happening right then in that present moment. So yeah, I won’t forget that experience anytime soon!


Jarrad Seng Interview | Yellowtrace

Jarrad Seng Interview | Yellowtrace


+ If I was not a photographer, I would be…

…trying to make it as a musician. Music was always my first love and what actually led me to photography in the first place. I used to play in a couple local bands, would go see my favourite bands at shows every weekend and even started a career in music journalism before moving over to the visual sides of things. The first couple of years were focused on concert photography, and it will always be my favourite genre to play in.

+ Three things every photographer needs…

An open mind, a humble soul and friends with couches to sleep on because it ain’t gonna be easy!

+ Most people don’t know that I…

…am technically a law school drop out. Once upon a time I was studying law at the University at WA, before switching degrees to Communications and Commerce… but never quite finished either of these. Those pesky ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunities in photography kept getting in the way!


Jarrad Seng Interview | Yellowtrace

[Images courtesy of Jarrad Seng.]


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3 Responses

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    Those pictures are just so beautiful! Thank you for sharing this interview, and Jarrad’s inspiring thoughts.


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