Norman Seeff Shares Stories Behind His Iconic Rock Photos

Inside tales about the Band, Patti Smith, Andy Warhol and more
Ray Charles
Norman Seeff/Morrison Hotel Gallery

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Photographer Norman Seeff isn't into researching his subjects or setting up props; he'd rather place his famous models in front of a plain screen and chat. "My whole thing was, 'It's not about photography – it's about communication,'" he tells Rolling Stone.

A former medical doctor from South Africa, Seeff arrived in New York in the late 1960s, looking for a more creative line of work. After shooting interesting-looking people on the streets for a year, he met graphic designer Bob Cato, who introduced him to rock photography. Inspired by his subjects' creativity, Seeff's photo sessions featured live performances and interviews. "The experience was so profound that I started having audiences come to my sessions," Seeff says. "Anywhere from 40 to 250 people would come and watch."

His first solo exhibition, at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York, features not only photos but also video from those sessions. Rolling Stone asked Seeff to share his stories about some of his favorite photos; click through for his tales.


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