A Photographic Memory

Recipient of a 2022 JFI Completion Grant
Winner of the 2022 Albert & Judith Goldberg Award

Thirty years after her mother’s death, photographer Rachel Elizabeth Seed discovers her mother’s work — more than 50 hours of interviews with the greatest photographers of the 20th Century, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Lisette Model, Roman Vishniac, Gordon Parks, W. Eugene Smith, and Bruce Davidson. When Rachel threads the audio reels and presses play, she hears her mother’s voice for the first time in decades. Sheila Turner-Seed, a daring, world-traveling journalist who — ahead of her time — ventured far beyond the safety of her conservative Jewish family, died suddenly of a brain aneurysm when Rachel was just 18 months old. Moved to uncover more, Rachel sets out to revisit her mom’s subjects, family, friends, and the photographers her mother interviewed decades before. As new truths emerge, Rachel builds a relationship with the mother she never knew, through the audio recordings, photographs, and films her mother left behind.

Originally from London, Rachel Elizabeth Seed is a Brooklyn-based nonfiction storyteller working in film, photography, and writing. She is a 2021 Jewish Story Partners grantee and California Film Institute Doclands DocPitch Fellow, a 2020 Sundance Institute, Chicken + Egg Pictures, NYFA New York Women’s Film Fund fellow, and a 2019 Sundance Edit & Story Lab fellow and Sundance Documentary Fund recipient for her debut feature film, A Photographic Memory. Rachel’s work has also been supported by Field of Vision, the Jerome Foundation, NYSCA, the Maine Media Workshops, the Roy W. Dean grant, and IFP. Formerly a photo editor at New York Magazine, her photography was included in the International Center of Photography’s exhibit on Hurricane Sandy, Rising Waters, and she was a cameraperson on several award-winning feature documentaries including Sacred by Academy-Award-winning filmmaker Thomas Lennon. Rachel’s writing has been published by No Film School, the Sundance Institute, and Talkhouse and she is Executive Director / Co-founder of the Brooklyn Documentary Club, a thriving NYC-based filmmaker collective with 250+ members.