Sebastian Boon, otherwise known as Segraphy, is an Amsterdam based photographer who has been making waves in the music and fashion scene since starting his career 3 years ago. His human oriented approach to photography has granted him the opportunity to shoot both local and internationally acclaimed artists, capturing moments which are not usually visible to the public. The work he produces is easily recognisable, as it stands out via its use of bold colours and stark contrast.
Following our collaboration for the SS20 collection, we had the chance to catch up with him at his home in Amsterdam, where we asked him to share his story with you, as well as his take on our collaboration process:
I have been a visual person ever since I can remember, and I used to draw a lot as a kid. When I was about 12 years old I started to suffer from really bad social anxiety and panic attacks, so I used the process of creating something visual as a way to get my mind off things. Then one day my dad offered to buy me a camera, and I started to expose myself to the world of photography. I mostly taught myself by experimenting with landscape photography. Then i realised that it would be the perfect tool to step out of my comfort zone and overcome my social anxiety by shooting portraits of people I have never met. I would go up to random people on the street and ask to take their picture, which is something that used to terrify me. Now I love shooting different individuals, and it’s become my favourite part of being a photographer.
Do you have to go to school for photography these days?
No, I don’t think so. But it depends on who you are as a person. Some people need more guidance and theory in order to define what their own vision is as a photographer. That wasn’t the case for me, as I approached it more as a learn-by-doing process to discover what I like personally. I attended school for a bit, but there were these supposedly objective rules that determined how photography should be. I didn’t see it like that, as the perfect photograph is a very subjective thing in my opinion. If I want to achieve something I do my best to find a way to do so, which can be via YouTube tutorials, websites, or asking other photographers in my network. So you could say that my approach to photography is very practical - I only learn what I need to, which helps me move forward faster.
Your photography seems to be heavily focused on subjects. Why do you prefer taking pictures of people?
When I first started taking pictures I used to visit different cities to take pictures of landscapes; buildings, structures, and those soft things. After a year I came back to a city I had shot at before, and I realised that nothing had changed, and that I had already taken pictures of the best spots in the city. So at that point I decided to focus on people, because humans are so intricate, they age, have different moods, emotions, and different ways in which they express themselves. All these things can influence the outcome of a picture I take, so each time I photograph a person it will be unique. That’s why I love portrait photography.
In your opinion, what makes a good photograph?
For me a good photograph is one that makes you look twice. One that has something unique about it, a soul if you will. That can come from a texture, an innovative use of light, an imperfection, or a moment that radiates authenticity. It’s hard to explain with words. It’s more of a feeling that you get when you see a picture that moves you.
But that is the case for me, so it could be different for everybody else. It’s a very subjective thing after all.
The SS20 collection drew inspiration from the novel ‘Coin Locker Babies’ - how did you interpret this into your photography?
I mainly drew inspiration from the feminine and masculine nature of the two brothers, and visualised them in different ways. The colours that I incorporated into the photography, as well as the shapes that were used for the print designs are meant to signify the fluidity of sexuality that plays such a powerful role throughout the novel.
Do you look for inspiration in literature for your own work as well?
Not really for my photography, but I do draw inspiration from books for my life in general.
What are some books that have had the biggest impact on you as a person/creator?
Ego is the enemy by Ryan Holiday
When looking at your portfolio, it seems that you got started by photographing musicians on and off stage. How has this played a role on your journey to delving into fashion photography as well?
I think there has always been a close link between music and fashion, except nowadays it’s a lot more apparent due to social media. They seem to go hand in hand. Since music is not a visual form of expression, artists are able to use fashion as a way to visualise their work. They can use it to reflect the lifestyle they live, and what they stand for as an artist. Since I was always shooting artists on and off stage, and they see fashion as an important part of their identity, I have been shooting fashion photography, indirectly, from the start.
Can one exist without the other these days?
I don’t think so. Yes, some musicians pay more attention to the way they dress than others, but at the end of the day fashion will always play a part in the full package of what that artist stands for, whether they like it or not. I’m not saying that someone who dresses well will automatically be a more successful musician, but it does play a role in how the world perceives you.
How are the two [fashion vs. music] photography different from each other?
It’s mainly the focus on the image. With music I often try to capture the most authentic moment possible, because that is what makes my photography interesting to other people. With fashion it’s different, because the primary focus is on the garments. I try to balance this though, as I think that the subject and setting are equally important to creating fashion photography that people want to look at. It should be about more than just trying to sell a product. It should help the conceptual story of the collection that the photographed garments are a part of.
What is the biggest thing that photography has taught you?
I would say that the main thing it has taught me is that stepping out of my comfort zone results in good things happening. Overcoming my social anxiety, and getting to pursue my passion for a living is a good example to prove that.
Another thing is that it helped me realise that no matter how famous or successful a person seems, they are still just people like you and me.
Besides photography, what are some other mediums of expression that you prefer?
Through photography projects i was exposed to art direction, and after a while I decided to give it a try myself. I really like the hands on application of it, and how it allows you to realise a concept that you have in your head. It’s very visual, so it came quite natural to me. It’s like world building, which is a lot of fun.
I guess photography is just one of the mediums that I use to express how I see the world around me. It’s what most people know me for at this point, but my graphic design work, drawing, and art direction all play an equally important role in shaping the work that I create.
What was it like to collab with a fashion brand?
It was nice to apply my way of working to the creation process of another medium of expression. Since I take photos I’m usually just involved in the very last part of launching a collection, so this collaboration was nice in the sense that I had input from the start. From the concept, to choosing the fabrics for the garments, making prints, and doing the editorial shoot. It felt very ‘full-circle’, which was great.
What was your favourite part of the collaboration?
I would say that it has to be the opportunity to realise my ambitions for creating clothing. It’s been something I have always wanted to do, and doing it alongside Irina was very rewarding as she was able to walk me through the process, which allowed me to learn new things.
What is some advice/tips you can give to people who want to get into photography?
Try to find your niche. I’m not saying that you should box yourself in, or limit yourself, but you should find a space in which you feel comfortable creating things that you like. Don’t try to create things to please other people. You should, first and foremost, create for yourself. Do things that you like. And always look for ways to challenge yourself, because repetition kills creativity. Just keep stepping outside your comfort zone, just like I did.