In the fall of 2010, I was at an event at the Brattleboro Literary Festival, which I co-founded and now attend every year. A writer was approaching the podium, when a sudden motion to my right grabbed my attention. A crouching figure rushed down the aisle toward the stage. It stopped, then unfolded upward to become a tall, bearded fellow, with two large cameras hanging from around his neck. After some adjustments, he began shooting photos of the speaker. I saw him again an hour or two later, shooting an author from various angles and distances.
I learned that he was Beowulf Sheehan, who had been hired as festival photographer.
Over the years since then, he’s become a familiar and delightful presence at Brattleboro. An integral part of the program, he’s present everywhere, absorbed in capturing candid shots of authors and other subjects in the life of the festival.
Beowulf has other projects in his busy career. In the fall of 2018, he came to the festival as a presenter of his own book, Author: The Portraits of Beowulf Sheehan. It is a very good book. The photos are wonderful; some of them are gorgeous.
His event was excellent, featuring projections of dozens of the two hundred portraits in his book, accompanied by Beowulf’s entertaining and informative narration. He told us the story of his career, the pursuit and nurturing of his art, interspersed with anecdotes about the portrait sessions with many of his author subjects, some of the notables among them Salman Rushdie, Donna Tartt, John Irving, and Patti Smith.
I’m looking forward to the Nantucket Book Festival, when Beowulf will give the newest version of this presentation. It’s not to be missed.