Beowulf Sheehan


Hello everyone and welcome to frames. My name is Scott Olsen and I am talking today with Beowulf Sheehan. Beowulf is one of the most sought after most successful and I believe most important portrait photographers in New York. These days he has worked in more than fifty countries lectured at New York University and Yale among other places and if you go to his website you will see portrait of people like Oprah Winfrey Twenty Morrison Patti Smith Margaret Atwood Patrick Stewart in Kellyn Paul Simon and dozens and dozens of others. It is a body of work of which I am personally Quite envious good morning. Bill could he's got great to hear Your Voice. I do have a quick thought for you. I've not traveled to fifty countries the photograph I photographed in better than ten by way of commissions however I have photographed people from at least fifty countries and hopefully been able to travel to their worlds in cultures through those experiences. Okay I saw that on your resume and I was impressed and I'm still impressed. So tell me how things are in New York this morning. New York is a beautiful place this morning. The air is cool and crisp outside. I did have a short walk this morning. I am very fortunate that out my window. I have a cemetery so I get to see less trees and I have a great deal of quiet. What sounds I hear. Every morning in this new time of ours is usually One of two things that I hear all either your birdsong or I will hear the sound of a passing ambulance and of course happy to hear the former not to hear the ladder. That is the time in which we live summer mornings in New York. City yes Tell me about portrait photography but let let let's begin where people how in the world could you get into photography? How did you get into the kind of portraiture that you do specifically I into photography being a shy boy and wanting to make friends and prior to the thought of making friends? I wanted to be reacquainted with my father. My parents divorced when I was in elementary school. My father was out in my life for a few years and when he came back the beginning of my high school years he had a Konica thirty five millimeter camera. A Long Lens to go with it and when I arrived at high school which was a high school outside of my neighborhood I went to magnet high school for foreign languages. I was busted very early in the morning to get there. I was in the ethic minority in head a world of new friends to make and when I got to school my classmates were speaking about two things with which I was unfamiliar of the Miami Dolphins. I grew up in Fort Lauderdale and girls and I knew very little about both but I had been working in the summers and not really spend that money on anything beyond books and comic book so I had enough money saved to become the youngest person in the history of the Miami Dolphins the buy season tickets to the Miami Dolphins. That's impressive I go So what I had done was than I began to use my father's camera and I would take a tripod that camera that long lens invite a new acquaintance from high school to eat game. And I believe my mother had driven been to us down To attend these games and no one ever stopped me. The guards were very kind. They recognize me after a few games. I always went through the same gate that sort of thing and was able to watch Dan Marino or the ball around and make pictures and then make Prince of those pictures and share them with classmates over time developing friendships and of course Getting to know my father again. That's a wonderful beginning there. Is I know an extraordinary event. Though in your early connection to reading and that's possible yes but but I'll let you lead that so when you're asking the extraordinary connection is well. Yeah you you are probably the only you are the only person I know who's ever been bitten by an alligator. Oh this is true this this. I don't know all the people in your life of course who you know but but I'm the only person I know who's been bitten by an alligator and that happened to me in the summer of nineteen seventy six in June of that year. I was of course on summer break from school quite small and my brother and I were playing in the backyard of the home of a friend of my mother in southwest Fort Lauderdale where there are canals and those canals in some cases feed than Their Way West to the Florida everglades and of course. That's where alligators hang out. And some of them sometimes get lost. My brother-in-law had been wrestling. This lady's backyard was time to come into the House for lunch. I had asked the Lady of the House. If we could use your host wash our feet persons they were full of dirt from the grass and the young lady had said no actually better just a spicer feed off the dock and then it'll be quicker and I went I. I remember sitting at the dock. Enjoying splash on my feet and looking at my brother and my brother's twenty months younger than me made his eyes get bigger and he looks down on my foot. I looked at my foot and I saw the alligator close. Its mouth around my right foot and I went to some degree of shock. The allegation let go. He caught the outside artery of my ankle and bloodshot out. Allah a bad money iphone sketch. And my my brother then began to grab my body to try to pull my body up and my mother and my mother's friend of course had come out of the house at this time and they were lifting me from the document onto the grass. The allegation had gone back under the dock. And I don't know how much more time passed or how much blood I lost but I then at some point found in the emergency room of a hospital where my brother was born. Only a few blocks away and doctors worked in saved my foot. Save my leg. There was concern for infection loss and I was very lucky to have for the balance of the summer. Have Gone to the hospital every day to get my foot. Epsom salts to save it and that meant of course not being able to play games at not being able to enjoy summer camp not being able to do sports do much of anything involved mobility and that deepened my reading and then with it of course my drawing and my reading and drawing through my childhood in and beyond began with comic books and then onto more challenging books More INTERESTING BOOKS. Maybe more interesting stuff. The right word say because books are wonderful. And they're very very interesting. Otherwise we wouldn't have these films adaptations of stories that now the masses is seen film but the the books of course comic books would come out once a month and it was great to go to seven eleven after school and pick up those books but I would devour them so quickly and then I really wasn't in the mood to wait another month for the next book to come out so I would just draw stories myself. The drawing worked its way over time of course into photography. But that's a longer compensation which I'm happy to have

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