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The Eye Behind The Camera: Barry Seidman

The Rickie Report is pleased to share a series of discussions with well known local professional photographer, Barry Seidman.  Entering Seidman’s studio, one is flooded with images of images, props, equipment, a working jukebox that plays 45’s and an instant sense of curiosity mixed with excitement.

 

Equipment & Entertainment

Barry’s attention to minute details has garnered him accolades as a person who has influenced American culture.  Until eight years ago, Seidman and his wife, Mary Ann, lived in the fast paced New York advertising community. 

Barry Seidman talks about his exhibit at the Harris Private Bank

 

Barry’s advertisements include Levi’s Jeans, Smirnoff Vodka, Panasonic, Coca Cola.  His expertise has long been sought out by movie stars and celebrities for not only print media campaigns, but videos as well. He has won every possible industry award including Clios, Tellys, Addys, and the Art Directors Club.  His generosity within the community is legendary. He served on the Board of To Make The World A Better Place ( a national photographic and literacy mentoring program).

Mary Ann and Barry Seidman

TRR:  How did you get started?

BS:  As a child, I would carefully arrange my vegetables and food around my plate.  One of my uncles would chide me and suggest I take a picture so it would last longer!  I guess I took him up on it! “I actually ended up making a living by taking pictures of food,” he says, showing us a bag of props like fake ice cubes and what looks like a puddle of newly spilled milk.

Seidman’s first job was in 1978 in an advertising firms’ mail room.  Later he moved to the mat room and soon was assistant to the art director.  One day someone came in and asked if anyone knew how to use the camera that was in the office.  Barry didn’t, but he tried and he became the internal house photographer!   While he had never worked professionally with a camera before, he was paid $75 for a photo of a soap product.  He is mostly self taught and has a collection of every shoot he has done since then.  “I love what I do!”

 

TRR:  How did you come to Palm Beach, FL?

BS:  Mary Ann and I needed to get away from the rat race and when we visited this area, we fell in love with it.  “The atmosphere is family-friendly and down-to-earth”.  They moved here in 2004 and not one to retire, Barry became involved in the Palm Beach Cultural Council and Lighthouse ArtCenter.  “I liked being able to work on my own terms and explore other avenues of my craft for myself”.

 

TRR:  You have a lot of quotes written on pieces of paper in your studio.  Can you tell us about them?
 BS:  My favorite is by Marcel  Proust:”The real voyage of discovery consists of not seeking new landscapes but having new eyes”.  My eyes have seen many landscapes, both real and engineered.  He explains that a newly poured drink in a glass can be a landscape as one watches it sweat.  Or as the lemon peel slowly drifts into the eddy as it is stirred.  Another quote Barry shares is from his high school year book, “Life takes you where you don’t expect”.

 

TRR:  You mentioned that you still take commercial work.  How do you find a balance?

 

BS:  I take less work now than I used to.  Mary Ann and I are enjoying life.  When we go on a trip, I am always bringing back artifacts and using them to create new photographs.  We came home from Sante Fe schlepping twenty-five bags of rocks.  Good thing we drove!  His geological series, “Tagged” reminds us of totems and trail markers.  Barry will not tell you what their meanings are.  That is for each individual person to decide for themselves.

 

“Tagged” Series

TRR:  There is a hypersensitivity in your photographs.  You make us notice the minutea as well as the bigger picture.

BS:  I tend to be methodical as I look at objects.  Each one is mesmerizing in its own right.  I try to understand relationships and I love having the ability to take stuff I find on the side of the road and see it with a different view point.  “You make a picture.  You don’t take a picture”  he explains.

 

TRR:  The equipment has certainly changed since you started this adventure.

BS:  I have to laugh when I think about all of the equipment I would lug around.  I still take different cameras and filters but instead of all of those rolls of film, I can take 900 photos with these small discs.  He shows us a 2″x 4″ plastic container with hard drive discs that he will be taking on his next vacation in Italy.  ” The equipment doesn’t really matter. Anything can be made into a picture. I use photo shop as a tool, just as an oil painter uses a brush to create his image on canvas”.

Archival film: A Thing of the Past

TRR: Your photos evoke so many questions: How did you catch the ice splash in that cocktail glass?  How did you make the smoke trails look like naked women modeling for you?

 

Inside the Studio

BS: Nothing is random. Everything is well planned. That said, imagination starts to help me see things that were never there.  I take liberties by using digital augmentation.  This permits me to enhance the truth of images.

TRR: If our readers do an Internet search of Barry Seidman, they will find television interviews where he shares his secret to making bubbles stay where he wants them in a glass of wine (a fine dropper of Dawn dish liquid). His comedic style puts everyone at ease.  Seidman can share dozens of techniques for preparing food for the camera.  We are personally taken with his Paper Bag series. 

 

These bubbles are not random!

TRR: What advise do you give to young people who are interested in photography?

BS: Take one good, thoughtful roll of film.  Be good at what you do and do it as perfectly as you can.  Don’t judge someone by one picture.  You may have a preconceived idea, but be open to others. Do not rely on trends.  Be true to yourself.

TRR: Barry Seidman’s current exhibit, New Eyes, at the Harris Private Bank in West Palm Beach is a compilation of his fine-art photographic series and represents the latest illustrative book, a photo biography of sorts, New Eyes.  It is a limited edition, signed and numbered book which  pulls you back to page after page of breathlessness and beautyTell us more about a photo biography:

 

“New Eyes” and Author/Photographer Barry Seidman

As one of the top, recognized still-life photographers in the country, Seidman’s autobiography is a compilation of photographs taken from the thousands of images he has photographed over the course of his career.  

“This book is a reflection of who I am, as an artist and a person, through my work over the last few decades,” Seidman said.

The book’s title New Eyes is inspired by Seidman’s favorite quote by Marcel Proust which reads: “The real voyage of discovery consists not of seeking new landscapes, but having new eyes.”  Throughout the book Seidman’s masterful technique and keen eye focuses on common objects seen in his unique way.

“I want others to see the object the way I see it. The details are compelling and draw the viewer in – they become a landscape, to walk inside and examine.”

Bloomers

The book opens with one of my most popular series, Bloomers, which when seen in person is gallery-wrapped on canvas and more than eight feet in length.  Other series take organic subjects, and through anthropomorphism, create relationships between them. This is seen with vegetables in Hot Peppers and flowers in Anthurium.  My newest series Handscapes, magnifies images of the hand until they become ambiguous abstractions, created by the curves, shapes and textures.

 

“New Eyes” with Different Lenses

As one can see the development of an artist through a retrospective in a gallery, New Eyes offers the viewer the same opportunity to see Seidman’s work all in one place…at one time. It is an opportunity to explore examples of his entire body of work with “New Eyes.”   For more information please call: 561-630-5745, visit www.barryseidman.com or contact the Lighthouse ArtCenter at 561-746-3101.

For coverage of your events, to place an advertisement, or speak to Rickie about appearing in The Rickie Report, contact The Rickie Report at:

Rickie Leiter, Publisher

The Rickie Report

P.O.Box 33423

Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33420

Rickie@therickiereport.com

561-537-0291

 

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