Before moving to New York in 1968 and switching careers to the arts and photography, Seeff worked as an emergency medical doctor in Soweto, South Africa focusing on the management of traumatic shock. Much of Seeff’s early work in New York resulted from encounters with those at the forefront of the artistic counter-culture of the time; including Andy Warhol, Paul Morrissey, Robert Mapplethorpe, Patti Smith, Johnny Winter and others. The resulting images allowed him to create a portfolio that illustrated his ability to capture the essence of his subjects. When Bob Cato, one of the great album cover designers of the time, saw this portfolio, he gave Seeff his rock n roll assignment. In 1971, Seeff was offered the position of Creative Director of United Artists Records in Los Angeles and in the following 2 years, his innovative approach to collaborative art-direction resulted in multiple Grammy nominations for graphic design. During this period,
Seeff was approached by the non-UA artists the Rolling Stones to shoot images for their Exile on Main Street album, collaborating with John Van Hammesveld, Robert Franks and Mick Jagger on the album design as art director. In 1973, Seeff left United Artists to open his own studio on the Sunset Strip. Seeff’s sessions soon became renowned for the co-creative environment he fostered in which he, and his subjects, let their guards down. This process allowed him to capture the authenticity and vitality he wanted in his images. Over the next 17 years, his sessions with musicians, actors, directors, dancers, entrepreneurs and public personalities became renowned not only for the images he produced but for a unique exploration of creativity and hundreds of spontaneous performances.