Norman Seeff’s Rockin’ Photography

Norman Seeff’s Rockin’ Photography
This Ray Charles photograph by Norman Seeff is on display at Promega in Fitchburg.

Ray Charles, Keith Richards, Ike and Tina Turner, the Eagles … Name an iconic musician or band, and chances are photographer and filmmaker Norman Seeff has captured them in one of his dynamic “sessions.”

A diverse selection of Seeff’s photographs of musicians, as well as a few actors and other notables, from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s grace the walls of the lobby and mezzanine of Promega’s BioPharmaceutical Technology Center in Fitchburg.

The Power & the Passion to Create: Photography & Filmed Sessions by Norman Seeff shows not only the incredible access the South African-born artist had to some of the world’s biggest celebrities, but also his longstanding interest in the creative process—that of his subjects and well as his own.

Glossy headshots these are not. The large-scale images, most presented in black and white, capture the energy, essence and character of each performer.

Rock legend Mick Jagger demands attention simply by standing with his hair blowing and shirt opening at his waist, while Ray Charles laughs so hard you can practically hear it, the keys of a piano reflected in his sunglasses. In a compilation of six photos, the Blues Brothers do a wild dance; John Travolta, with a grin on his face and a beer in his hand, also grooves in a shot.

There’s Blondie looking cool as the band stands on a balcony overlooking a New York City Street and Willie Nelson with a red bandana and braids, the Las Vegas sun glowing behind him. Martin Scorsese rests his hand on his chin with his eyes closed and Steve Jobs sits on the floor with a blocky 1980s computer.

The Ramones are shown from just their chests to their feet, all leather jackets, T-shirts and tattered jeans.

And a highlight of the show reveals Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, whom Seeff met shortly after moving to New York in 1969. With wild hair, a free-spirited vibe and Mapplethorpe resting his hands on Smith’s shoulders, it’s a beautiful, tender moment.

“The authenticity and emotional depth of their love was exactly what I was looking for in my images,” Seeff states.

The Power & the Passion to Create runs through January 2 at Promega. For more information, visit