WILD AT HEART
Globetrotter. Wildlife snapper. Rock-star shooter. He’s the WA photographer always going places ... and he’s up for anything.
When Jarrad Seng streaked down the Hay St mall, wearing nothing but a camera, on a crisp May morning last year, some onlookers copped an eyeful. “It was pretty embarrassing and humiliating,” Seng says down the line from Johannesburg. “In the picture, the camera covered my bits, but everyone else in a 360-range saw everything.”
Seng doesn’t normally get around the place naked. The 28-year-old photographer — who regularly shoots UK folk singer Passenger, worked with pop superstar Ed Sheeran and has more than 300,000 online followers — was fulfilling a dare as part of his 24 photographs in 24 hours challenge.
The long-haired larrikin did not streak in vain. His goal was to raise $10,000 for the Red Cross to help victims of the Nepal earthquake, which claimed almost 9000 lives and injured 22,000.
“My favourite was getting a selfie with a quokka on Rottnest within an hour —which included getting on a ferry from Perth,” Seng laughs.
Working for 24 hours straight, Seng earned $417 per hour, doing everything from being a barista in Osborne Park to a brewery guide in Fremantle.
“I’m usually up for anything. It doesn't take much to convince me to do something ridiculous. The chance to help people in Nepal was incredible. My first major taste of travel was a volunteering trip there in 2009, which was a beautiful but harsh introduction to inequality around the world.”
Our conversation pauses as Seng jumps into a car for another Tourism South Africa shoot, this time at the Madikwe Safari Lodge, near the border of Botswana.
“I move places every couple of days,” Seng says. “Even when I come home to Perth, sometimes it’s just long enough to put everything through the wash and pack again.”
Last year he travelled to 21 countries and 56 cities on 100 different flights. This year hasn’t been as hectic, but he did challenge himself to finish off the last unit of his combined Bachelor of Arts and Commerce degree from UWA in between jobs.
“I found out that if I don’t finish that unit, my degree doesn’t count. I spent five or six years at uni, living in St George’s College. It was a special time for me.”
Seng gravitated towards photography during those days, taking pictures of drunk people in Perth nightclubs, but says every exhausting experience helped him build a portfolio that now includes spectacular early morning photographs of the northern lights in the Icelandic wilderness.
His other career highlights are sharing breakfast with giraffes in Kenya, hiking inside the world's largest cave in Vietnam, wading through glacier lagoons and dangling his legs off the tallest building in the world.
“I'd love to explore the Antarctic, or take on the epic cliffs of Norway,” Seng says. “I can't wait to visit the far reaches of WA. It will always be my home.”
His next stop is Fremantle where his exhibition, Parallels, opens this week. Seng shares the space with Dutch-born street artist Amok Island.
The two travelled to Rottnest in a light aircraft to take pictures of the salt lakes, rugged coastline and wild terrain. Seng’s aerial photographs sit beside Amok Island’s minimal, geometric interpretations.
It’s Rottnest as you’ve never seen it before, but from Seng, something different is just what we expect. Parallels is at PS Art, Packenham St, Fremantle, from December 9-22.
Left and above: Jarrad Seng self portraits taken on his travels in Iceland. Above right: Two arial shots of Rottnest featured in Parallels.