Posted 25 April 2022
Mention Jay Seba
Interview by Lyla Johnston

“You need to be a people person”: Director and photographer Jay Seba on why working with friends is best

The secret to Jay Seba’s success lies with his friendships. The director and photographer originally studied drama but found his passion by learning from close friends. Jay’s friends taught him the tricks of the trade, from helping him find his way around a DSLR, to hiring him as a behind-the-scenes photographer. Five years of “ups and downs” later – including vlogging and sneaking cameras into concerts – Jay’s career is blossoming. His list of clients features the likes of Dazed, UMG, Dirty Hit, and most recently Louis Vuitton, where he documented Virgil Abloh’s last ever show in January. Here, Jay reflects on his creative career to date, discusses the value of leaving your comfort zone and why you need to know your self worth.

Jay Seba

Jay Seba

Job Title

Director and Photographer



Selected Clients

Louis Vuitton, Dazed, The Darkroom Records, UMG, Dirty Hit, Paul Smith, REP NYC, YouTube Music, Sony, Kid Super

Place of Study

BA Drama, University of Southampton (2013–2016)

Social Media



What I do

How would you describe what you do?
I create various forms of media mostly within the realms of fashion, music and documentary. I direct, shoot and edit and at varying times, all three.

What are the main influences and inspirations behind your work?
Man, a healthy diet of skateboarding videos, anime, music videos, short films and docs. Frank and Tyrone Lebon are probably my favourite short form directors at the moment. Jacob Harris also makes this amazing skateboarding video series called Atlantic Drift. INTERSTELLA 5555 and Paprika are also must-watches.

“Everything I’ve learnt to do with directing and photography, I’ve learnt on the job.”

What’s your favourite project to work on from the past year, and why?
Definitely the last few projects with Louis Vuitton. Being in Paris for Virgil Abloh’s last show was beautiful and inspiring. Working on SS22 is probably my favourite work to date. I was so thankful to be given a space to create, as well as a budget to hire my friends.

Would you say you need any specific training for what you do?
Not necessarily, the skills you need can be developed. I did a degree in drama but everything I’ve learnt for directing and photography, I’ve learnt on the job. Either from the internet or thankfully from a few friends who work in the industry.

I think more than anything you need to be a people person. You can learn everything from how to use software, cameras, photography techniques, editing techniques and more from the internet. But learning how to speak, collaborate and create with people is something that cannot be taught, only learnt through doing.

Louis Vuitton FW22 Show Impressions


How I got here

Tell us about your journey when first starting out? Did you find your feet quickly?
Luckily I found my way through learning from close friends who were already filmmakers and photographers, each having studied the subject in one way or another. Shout out to Kay Ibrahim, Elliott Round and Jack Freeman.

From teaching me how to use a DSLR to letting me take BTS images and videos on their sets, these guys really started my career. Kay has continued to be a frequent collaborator of mine to this day.

Other than that, I’d say a number of other things started my career beginning with making vlogs and skateboarding videos on my GoPro. These taught me how to edit to music, create pace and a journey within a video. My passion for music led me to take my camera to every show I could get it into – including sneaking it in to a Playboi Carti show a few years back. Eventually, I figured out how to get press passes and work with the artists and labels themselves.

“It definitely wasn’t an easy journey; five years of ups and downs [and] different odd jobs, but I wouldn’t change a thing.”

With fashion, my career began with me self-funding a trip to Paris Fashion Week in January 2019. I was working at a bar job at the time and had a model friend walking in a show, as well as others who knew people in showrooms. I got in where I could and it led to me impressing PR companies like REP NYC and brands such as Kid Super and Casablanca.

Personal projects are important, too. Shoot and work with friends. Always. It definitely wasn’t an easy journey. Five years of ups and downs, many different odd jobs to keep the money rolling in at times, trial and error, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

Beabadoobee at the O2
Polaroid of The Batman premiere
Polaroid of Tyler the Creator

If you could pick three things that you’ve found useful or inspiring to your work or career, what would they be and why?
Reely and Truly
by Tyrone Lebon is my favourite photography documentary. Beautifully shot, it has a brilliant pace which keeps you interested and a variety of people included. I must’ve watched it 50 times now and I’ll never get bored of it.

Leaving my comfort zone. It can be as simple as leaving your house and getting inspired on the street, or in a coffee shop. Trying new mediums and art forms, learning something new. Take your first solo trip abroad – my trip to New York on my 23rd birthday definitely opened my eyes; having to figure out things on your own hours away from anyone you know, networking and meeting people, shooting in a completely new environment and working entirely spontaneity. Things didn’t go to plan but I learnt so much that I returned the following year and did more than I could have imagined. I ended up in places I never thought I would be, including shooting at New York Fashion Week.

YouTube tutorials. They are your best friends as a creative as you can learn to do almost anything and then get paid for said thing you learnt for free. Also brilliant for troubleshooting if you’re having software problems.

No Rome Live for Nylon

What has been your biggest challenge along the way?
Definitely self-motivation. As a freelance creative, no one is going to force you to start. Especially if you’re doing something that’s not client work. After a big job or project that can be quite exhausting and full-on, I always need a recharge period. Rest is important. But I also find it hard to get started again sometimes.

How important is social media and self-promotion to your work? Do you have any advice or learnings to share?
Social media is definitely important, but less important than people make out. Or at least in the way it’s perceived and how you’re supposed to use it. Posting frequently and having a large following isn’t important at all.

I mainly use Instagram as a networking tool and a portfolio. I’ve made friends and gotten a number of jobs through Instagram especially when going abroad. It’s definitely not easy but sending that message to that company or person you want to work with can happen. It’s best to maintain some sort of presence, update your work when you can. Also, showing love to other creatives you admire can go a long way.

Polaroid of J Balvin for Louis Vuitton
Polaroid of Salome

What have been your biggest learnings with making money and supporting yourself as a creative?
For years I worked a bunch of side hustle jobs at theatre bars, cafés, football stadiums and other hospitality jobs. My first steady freelance cheque was working as an editor for ASOS. But that has since come and gone with Covid-19 amongst other things. The biggest thing I’ve learnt is probably self-worth, learning what your strengths are and what it is you want to do.

I’ve reached a point in the last year where I can turn down jobs that although pay well, wouldn’t be beneficial to my career nor enjoyable. Having the confidence to charge higher rates and be selective about who I work with is valuable. It means not just anyone can hire me and my work can be more exclusive.

My advice

What’s the best career-related advice you’ve ever received?
“Try it as a hobby for a year to see if you really like it” – Kay Ibrahim.

What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?
Create with your friends. It’s the best way to start, really.

Mention Jay Seba
Interview by Lyla Johnston