WILD AT HEART

Glo­be­trot­ter. Wildlife snap­per. Rock-star shooter. He’s the WA pho­tog­ra­pher al­ways go­ing places ... and he’s up for any­thing.

The Sunday Times - - PHOTOGRAPHY - Story Con­nie Clarke

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.

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