I don’t remember when I first got to know photographer John Sevigny, but I do remember why. Somehow, years ago, via the wonder of social media, I’d seen one of his pictures: a black-and-white image of a statue of Our Lady next to a row of slot machines, taken somewhere in Central America. It appealed to the lapsed catholic in me, and I promptly ordered a copy.
John was in the same boat as a lot of independent artists – when you ordered from his website, you were dealing directly with him. He was photographer, promoter, mail clerk, and whatever else was needed, and when he got in touch to say ‘thanks’ for buying his work, we ended up exchanging emails and chatting. John’s emails could cover a lot of ground, and cover it well – he’d been a journalist in his early days – and while I might not hear from him for months, there’d then be a flurry of correspondence, all of it fascinating. Our conversations and discussions would sprawl across politics (in the US, Central America – where John spent much of his time – and the UK), music, the joys and the difficulties of life as an independent artist, and whatever else either of us had on our mind at any given point. They were always something to savour.
Lately, we’d talked a lot about this latest collection, League of the Dead, all of which is set in one bar off Garibaldi Plaza in Mexico City. John had a knack, a skill, a facility, not just for taking great photos of people, but for knowing their stories, too, and he thought the photos in this collection counted amongst his best work “Steve, lightning kinda struck”. He was right. Both he and his work deserved to be better known, and his sudden death last week in Mexico City leaves the world a poorer place than it was with him in it. My thoughts are with his family and friends.