A Photographic Memory

A personal documentary film about a daughter’s search for the mother she never knew through their shared love of photography.

Letter from Henri Cartier-Bresson to Sheila.

Letter from Henri Cartier-Bresson to Sheila © Rachel Elizabeth Seed

This is a fantastic story of how a daughter, Rachel Elizabeth Seed, is on a journey searching for information about her mother she never knew, Sheila Turner Seed. What she didn’t expect to discover was that her mother made dozens of recordings of some of the most prolific photographers in history such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Davidson, Lisette Model, Cornell Capa and William Albert Allard.

(All recordings courtesy of International Centre of Photography.)

This is what Rachel Elizabeth Seed had to say on her Kickstarter about it:

“This project began when I uncovered some boxes of short films at my dad’s house about the photographic icons Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Davidson, Cornell Capa, Lisette Model, W. Eugene Smith, William Albert Allard, Don McCullin, and others. My mother, Sheila Turner-Seed had directed and edited the films in the early ’70s. Since she died so long ago, I thought maybe I could learn more about her life if I retraced their origins.

I discovered that her raw interviews had been sitting like a time capsule at the International Center of Photography since 1979 when my dad sent them there for safekeeping. This led me to start A Photographic Memory, a film celebrating my mother’s life and work, as well as ICP founder Cornell Capa’s vision for photography.

Sheila's published photography programs.

Sheila’s published photography programs © Rachel Elizabeth Seed

In A Photographic Memory, I go on a journey to learn – through our shared profession – about the mother I never knew but whom I so desperately need to know. My mother, Sheila, was an ambitious New York and London-based writer, editor and producer who died suddenly in 1979. I was 18 months old and she had completed, a few years earlier, a series of award-winning film programs about influential photographers that were co-produced by International Center of Photography founder Cornell Capa and Scholastic. After revisiting these photographers in New York, France and England or, if deceased, their closest associations, I am blending my mother’s 1970s interviews with my own footage, creating a posthumous mother-daughter collaboration that connects me to my mother while re-examining the course of the careers of some of the most influential photographers in the history of the medium.

Excerpt from Sheila's typed transcript of her interview with W. Eugene Smith.

Excerpt from Sheila’s typed transcript of her interview with W. Eugene Smith © Rachel Elizabeth Seed


A break down of what your donations will be put towards © Rachel Elizabeth Seed

We’ve traveled to France and around the US to interview key people, but now we need to raise at least $25,000 to complete shooting and begin editing this year. We still have several shoots to do: I will interview four contemporary photographers, as well as my mother’s best friend in Alaska, who had a long conversation with her the day before she died and who remembers all of it. Funds will pay our film crew consisting of Director (me), DP (Daniel Traub), Sound PA (Mark Maloof), Editor (TBD) and production assistants. In the event we overfund we will be able to continue to pay an editor to get closer to a final cut, as well as get further along in the post-production process. Editing and post-production are the most costly and arguably important part in the filmmaking process, and our total budget is nearly $200,000. Your generous support will enable us to get closer to this project’s completion. We can’t thank you enough for your donation, and we’d love your help spreading the word via Facebook, Twitter, blogs and email!’

There is only 12 days left to pledge your support, and Rachel Seed is 3/4 of her way through. She still needs your help so click here to help to pledge your support!

Information: Kickstarter