Exclusive Interview With Top NYC Based Photographer Seth London: The Black Tom Ford Of Photography.

by - 14:42:00

Seth London is a photographer whose photography feels like a direct reflection of who he is as a person. If sexy, rawness, intimacy, self-love, and authenticity were a person, it would be Seth London and his photographic imaginations. He best describes his style of photography to be - clean yet raw, thought-provoking yet tamed. Check out his exclusive interview with us below.
Photographer|KP SHOT IT
Hi Seth, Please fully tell us about yourself and your personal background.
Well, my name is Seth London. Born and raised in the state of New York.
I’m an 80’s baby and proud of it. I’m the oldest of what seems like a sea of siblings.
I have a master’s in forensic psychology. Some people will call that a waste because I am not technically using or working in a Behavioral Science unit. However, working with different personalities psychology is helpful.  People always laugh at this point, but I am very shy and a home body. I do have a b*tchy side. But that is only because I aim for perfection and don’t have time for people's shenanigans. 
Model|Távon E. Hänner. Photographer| Seth London.
Whether you call it ‘lens-based’ media, photography, or visual storytelling – there are so many ways to express oneself in a 21st-century world — how did your personal style of photography become your choice of expression? In your own words please describe your style as a photographer? And how did you discover you had a passion for photography?
Time. it took and it takes time to train your eye.  Being a man and a black man, I know how to make men look good. When people look at more work, I want them to see what I have seen. I want them to enjoy this visual dinner well three-course dinner lol. My style of photography is clean yet raw. Thought-provoking yet tamed. I consider myself the black Tom Ford of photography- my work is sexy, sexual, simple yet expensive. It's current and in your face. My work is art; by art I mean when one goes to a gallery or a museum one doesn’t need a breakdown or a summary of the art piece. When it comes to my work, you either get it or you don't.
Do you remember your first experience with the Camera?
Umm child, I feel like it was so far back “like picture it….. Sicily 1945”.  I guess we should always remember our first time. But I will say my first experience was back in high school. That’s when I found my love for photography. My yearbook was like 150, and 150 for a teenager is like 500 dollars, I promise you. I came up with an idea just to take pics of people I knew.  I got a few disposable cameras and started shooting my friends.  I was like why buy a book of people and I only know 6 percent of these folks.
Model|Chris Prince Vega. Photographer| Seth London
We absolutely love your brand name “Seth London” what was the inspiration behind it or is that your real birth name?
No, my real name is Steven. London comes from the city I fell in love with as a kid. The idea of the bespoke man and the classic idea of a gentleman. Seth is my middle name. I love my stage|professional name. I feel like when one hears the name Seth London one should be ready to spend that Life insurance check lol.
How big a role does photography play in your life?
I-D magazine 
British GQ
And Equinox.
How do you get inspired? And what inspires you the most? Movies, books, or magazines? Or is it just what’s around you?
My clients inspire me, I always want to give them something new. Fashion week is definitely a source of inspiration for me especially when it comes to styling. Magazines too of course! I need to see what the new wave or waves of fashion are.
Model| Francia David. Photographer| Seth London
I fell in love with you and your personality when you once said these words 'My style of photography is clean yet raw. I consider myself the black Tom Ford of photography- my work is sexy, sexual, simple yet expensive.', please elaborate on what this means to you as a photographer and how it influences your thinking when it comes to picture taking?
Sex sells. Tom Ford’s Gucci is deff a master of this idea. Of course, we have the late 90’s Guess and CK  as a reference. Yes, one would say Versace was the first to glorify the mistress and the lady who likes a lime with her drink aka the wh*re. But Tom Ford was able to have a man in a suit and all one can think about is mischief. He understood how to make sex sexy and still make someone spend top dollar.  I shoot a lot of black and brown models where; being half-naked is the trend. Yes, I do fall in that lol; however, when I dress or style my models, no matter their sex I want them to look expensive. It is hard in these fashion streets for black and brown models.  I want to give them a fighting chance against their counterparts.
In a previous interview, you said- "Seth London is not just a name or a person. It is an idea, a feeling I evoke in the models I meet. I am not just a man with a camera – I am a visionary pushing the boundaries on what is safe and accepted". You clearly know exactly what you want and the feeling you want to evoke in your models, how can you use your experience as a photographer to inspire other photographers out there trying to find their niche in the industry?
It’s a real different ball game from when I started photography. Actually, a few weeks ago I was in Los Angels, USA, and this model asked me how long I had been a photographer and I said when it meant something. To circle back, when I started photography one actually had to do work. I know what a stone-age concept is in a 2022 environment ( Work). We are in a world where someone can get a booking just due to the fact, that they have 15k+ followers on social media. Yet the photographer who is really good may only have 2k followers and he or she gets passed for lil’ Timmy who has way too much money to burn. In one of my featured images, I am holding my photography portfolio book another dark age idea.  I feel it has not been updated in 7 years. I actually love this book only because I bought it Oh’ lord 8 or nine years ago in Marseille (France) for 125 euros. Which is 2022 could be an easy 160 euro. These new photographers are recreating and reinventing the rules of engagement.  I feel they inspire me. All I can tell people is to believe in your work and fight for your point of view.
In your opinion, what makes a good photograph? How do you decide when something you create meets or exceeds your expectations?
A good photograph is just that GOOD !!!. It's really hard to explain. It goes back to my art breakdown. You get it or you don't. It is subjected to one’s personal taste and thought process. 
The image talks to me that how I know it's worth posting and meeting my expectations. I do cheat a little bit. I only take on assignments, that I am 105 percent sure I can execute and is on-brand. When people book me and pay their hard earn money, I leave nothing to chance.
Model| DT @therealmrdt. Photographer| Seth London
I am a huge believer in using one's platform to spread love, light, and positive vibes and this is the same energy I get when I see your work it makes me feel certain emotions, tell us what is the most challenging part being a fine art photographer? 
Fighting for my rate. Again, we are in a new game, where black businesses don’t get the respect they deserve. People book a flight or go to their favorite restaurant and pay whatever is on that price card. However, when you freelance it’s like people think you are not worthy of your base rate. I go more into dept in the next question.
What are some of the biggest hurdles you have faced as a photographer and how did you overcome them?
Well, it's a long a sad story. Whelp here it goes.  Going to keep it short. When I started getting my feet wet, one issue I faced was shooting black models.2012 was not as progressive as it is today, let me tell you. I applied to be the in-house photographer for Major Models and the head booker looked at my book and sis was not one bit impressed or moved.  After a few seconds after to composed herself; Dani ( I can say their name cause they are no longer there ) was like I like you so I will give you some advice, no one will take you seriously with a book of all black models.  Which to me was ironic because her top black model;  I shot and she loved the shot. Hence, why I was called for the interview.
Another issue, I had was the fact I shoot men. I went for a casting to shoot TI the American rapper and when I showed my book to the casting director and lead stylist;  His exact words to me were “where’s are the bitches”. In my head, I was like is TI doing drag. Why will you need to see females if the job is for a man client?  But this moment was the turning point for me. I was really hurt and defeated. I had one of those movie moments. I was in a cab coming home and I won’t lie. I was crying in the cab and I looked up and I saw three models walking. I looked at these three white girls and it dawned on me, that there are some photographers who only shoot females, who only shoot Asian, and so on. I was like I got this and I will make people see that shooting men is not a one-trick for a pony. I build my brand and knew I had something to show the world.
**In House Photographer- Another lost term in the English language lol- So it was a time when agencies only used to give a take 2-5 photography to do testing. But wait cause I know someone is like they still do this?. But these tests 2/3 will be paid for. I know an agency paying for photography is crazy. 
Model|AMAYA. Photography|Seth London
What was the first-ever photography gear you used? when it comes to photo shoots what is your current favourite photography gear and what do you always have in your photography Bag/Kit? 
When I started photography I used a Nikon, now I have a canon, Sony, and Fuji MF.  People are going to judge me because I don’t have a professional photographer bag – odd I know-  but one thing I do like is a V flat and reflector even though that is more studio gear. 
If you could change one thing about the photography industry, what would it be? What would you improve?
Photography has come a long way so I am interested in seeing its natural evolution. I don’t know what I would change at the moment.
What has been the highlight of your career as a photographer to date? 
Every booking is a highlight. Corny I know. But it’s a highlight for me because I get to create another Seth London Original.
What are your latest and upcoming projects?
I  was in California in January to shoot a Hair extension ad campaign. So, please stay tuned to my IG for more – and yes that was a plug-in for my IG lol.@sethlondon_official.
Model| Adham Gains. Photography| Seth London
What was the most surreal moment you ever experienced during a photography shoot?
This may corny or lame. But the idea anyone wants to work with me. Going back to my previous response. I come from an era where every photographer knew each other. When it was a mission to find a photographer. In 2022 u can find 20+22 photographers within a mile radius. So since it so and I do mean so many options the fact people think of me or want to work with me is so surreal. 
Actually funny when I answer this I was not aware of the fact that this experience would transpire just a few days ago while on set in ATL. I am big on family so whenever I am in ATL I am on nanny duties for my niece. Long story short she was running and she scrap her knee. So I told the client yea it’s a wrap cause she crying and I need to nurse her and give her some TLC. So this Bozo was like what about my last look?. I don’t like to break character. But I was like if you think you or that f**** look is more important than the girl in that room you are sadly mistaken. And in my mind, all I could think of is like you see a toddler crying cause she is in pain and all you can think of is a damn look he hasn’t even paid for. So I would say this is the most recent surreal moment I have encountered during a photoshoot.
Model| Craig Messick. Fashion Stylist|Michael Stallings. Photographer| Seth London
What are you doing when you are not working?
Working, even when I am not on set I am working- I am on holiday doing this interview lol.
However, I do enjoy cooking and hosting friends over. I love to travel and relax with a tequila sour.
Any last words for your fans and dreamers out there? 
Never give up; sh*t can really happen later in life.
Follow Seth London On Instagram Here
CREDITS:(Seth London's Look)
Photographer|KP SHOT IT @kpshotit
Set Assitant| ROAM
Outfit| Paul Smith
Facial Hair| Bishop
Necklace|Melanin Blessed @themelaninblessed
Editor|Soheil Momeni @soheilmomenii
MUA| Seth London @sethlondon_official

You May Also Like