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BUSINESS - INTERVIEW

Interview with Seagram Pearce, Automotive and Commercial Photographer

It should be wonderful to pursue a career in a creative profession like photography and work in projects related to the cars you are interested in. I talked with Seagram Pearce about his life, photography career, and the details of automotive and commercial photography.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Seagram Pearce

Seagram Pearce

BUSINESS - INTERVIEW

by Melisa Kaya

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There are supercars produced in factories or ateliers, and many of us can't see them on the streets. Even if you are lucky as to see them, maybe only a few seconds. However, thanks to the photographers who photographed these cars, we have the opportunity to see all the details of these exquisite artworks. Of course, automotive photography isn't just about supercars. When we decide to buy a car to use in our daily life, we don't go out to visit the car showrooms on the first day, but instead, we look at the photos of the different cars in magazines and catalogs. According to the beauty of the photos, we decide which car is suitable for us. We prefer the most beautiful exterior, the most comfortable and elegant interior and we see all the details through the eyes of the photographer. Although he had met photography at a very early age, Seagram Pearce decided to become a professional photographer much later. In 2008 he founded his own photography studio. He specialized in automotive photography and worked in both local and international campaigns. In addition to his work in automotive photography, he has worked with many famous people and well-known brands in his projects on portrait and fashion photography. I talked with Seagram Pearce about his career and the basics of automotive and commercial photography.

Seagram, before talking about photography, I would like to learn more about you. When did you get your first camera? Do you remember the first photo that you shoot with it?

The first camera I ever got the opportunity to use and take photos with was my uncle’s Pentax SLR with an intuitive split-prism focus system. I was 6 years old and did my first international trip with my mom which lasted a month around the world. On returning, we had 56 rolls of film that I was told I did the majority of shooting. That became our photo album for that trip. I don’t remember much of it, but that was my first exposure to photography. It took me many years to come back to it.

Photo by Seagram Pearce

Photo by Seagram Pearce

Could you tell us about yourself? Who is Seagram Pearce?

Seagram Pearce is a guy who counts his lucky stars that he gets to have the most incredible life experiences, doing something that pays to do so. There is a lot of blood, sweat and tears behind the life, but it was worth every drop. I travel around the world on various projects shooting advertising campaigns. I get to call Cape Town my birthplace and chosen home too. I consider myself so fortunate to get to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth and travel as much as I do.

Photo by Seagram Pearce

Photo by Seagram Pearce

How did you decide to pursue a career in photography and establish your own studio? What inspired you?

For some reason between the ages of 8 - 19 I never realised that photography was a career option or choice. I don’t know why I never even thought that it could be. I went straight from school into a design job. I did that for two years, and then my one & only boss told me that he had to fire me or I had to resign because I was destined for greater things than working for him. So it was a push out the proverbial nest that threw me into photography as a career. Yet I have absolutely no regrets, other than I wish I had made the connection earlier and could have added two years to gaining experience and learning.

Could you tell us about Seagram Pearce Photography and your team?

The team always starts with me. I have my regular local assistants that work with me on most projects. When I travel, I like to make use of international team members as I love supporting the local industry I’m shooting in. It’s always great when that happens in Cape Town with international productions, so I extend the same courtesy to the places I travel to. The team is always different and the creative team always changes.

Photo by Seagram Pearce

Photo by Seagram Pearce

What kind of services do you offer to your clients?

I personally handle the photography, the technical breakdown and workflow to achieve the project brief and creative input should be the team I’m joining require it. I’ll always oversee the post-production of a project too because it’s so integrated to the final deliverable.

Photo by Seagram Pearce

Photo by Seagram Pearce

How did your interest in automotive photography has begun? What is the most special aspect of automobiles for you?

I think it was a combination of being a typical guy who loves cars. Combined with the fact that in my local market, almost nobody was shooting automotive like I thought it should be. So I made my own niche in South Africa after a lot of perseverance. Eventually I started getting international attention and that opened up the world market to me.

Photo by Seagram Pearce

Photo by Seagram Pearce

How do you find the right and unique concept for the photo of each car? Do you prefer to make a test drive to understand the spirit of the car better?

I really wish this was the case! Unfortunately, the concept I work towards on most advertising projects is the creative brief the ad agency has come up with. However, that said, the final execution on set is often tweaked a bit because you can never tell how the car will look in the given location until you’re looking at it. Creative heads understand this and often will leave it up to me to show them how I see the vehicle and environmental marriage best.

Alain Prost - Photo by Seagram Pearce

Alain Prost - Photo by Seagram Pearce

Besides automotive photography, what kind of projects do you prefer to work on?

I love people and the infinite emotions you can get from a human being. So I really love working on portraits which are stylised or themed. Much like character development, an actor will give. Sometimes I’ll work with actual artisans in a trade, or we’ll have exceptionally talented actors/tresses bringing a character alive. Often in advertising, we’ll always have people involved. Then my other personal passion is architecture and travel. This I shoot purely for myself and creative outlet.

Is it possible for abroad clients to work with you for their projects in their own countries?

Absolutely! These are my favourite projects to work on. Getting to immerse myself into a foreign country or environment that is different from my normal region is creatively inspiring and refreshing. It’s like a shot of creative adrenaline that keeps you going for a while thereafter.

Photo by Seagram Pearce

Photo by Seagram Pearce

Which factors determine the project budget? Which decisions can reduce the costs per photo?

This is always up to the clients brief and production value. You can have the most simple of shots, but if the production cost to make it a reality is high, the project budget needs to be high. On the other end of the scale, some projects are shot very organically, with little production value and only relying on my own creative eye and in-situation interpretation of a scene. These cost little in production, but can still require a large budget depending on road closures, talent choices, location, etc.

Photo by Seagram Pearce

Photo by Seagram Pearce

What are your expectations from your clients for a successful collaboration?

In the advertising and commercial genre, there is a lot of time spent on pre-production. There are multiple meetings and phone calls about the project, long before anyone even gets to set. So as long as everyone is on the same page on what the project needs to achieve, that is the best you can do. Having a client that loves your style of work is also very important because they’ll trust your ability to deliver what they want.

Photo by Seagram Pearce

Photo by Seagram Pearce

What advice would you give to photographers who want to pursue a career in automotive photography?

You have to practice by doing. So if you want to get good at something, you need to do it repeatedly. Your book is your gateway to clients on various levels. You need to realise that you won’t book a global vehicle release package project when you’re starting out. But don’t have the craziest goals and aspirations. You have to have a goal and dream so big it scares you.

The Tobacconist - Photo by Seagram Pearce

The Tobacconist - Photo by Seagram Pearce

What is your favorite photograph that you have ever taken?

It is difficult to think of one photograph because so many have different meanings to me. I do perhaps have one photograph I took of a gentleman (The Tobacconist) which started a project I’ve been working on for the last almost 7 years. It was one of the photographs which placed me in the top 100 of the Hasselblad Masters Competition one year.

Photo by Seagram Pearce

Photo by Seagram Pearce

What do you think about social media? How can our readers follow you?

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. It’s so necessary these days, but I also hate how shallow it can be. The “influencer” movement has also warped clients views on how valuable someone can be. They’ve forgotten that its skill and experience that make a project a success, not the mass social media following someone with an iPhone has. My favourite social media is Instagram because it’s visual.

Website: www.seagrampearce.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/seagrampearce
Twitter: www.twitter.com/seagrampearce
Behance: www.behance.net/seagrampearce
500px: www.500px.com/seagrampearce

Photo by Seagram Pearce

Photo by Seagram Pearce

What is next for you?

There are always projects in the pipeline, so there is never really a moment that nothing is happening. During the Cape Town winter, I do tend to do a lot more international projects n the Northern Hemisphere, so that allows me to enjoy the good weather year round. As long as I’m creating something, I’m happy and content.

Thank you Seagram for your time.

For more information, please click here to visit the website of Seagram Pearce