Remembering Shawn Mortensen

- - Photographers

Talented, beloved photographer Shawn Mortensen passed away two days ago at the age of 43.


Leigh Anderson, his former agent from Montage had this to say:

Shawn was one of the most talented photographers I’ve ever known, but that’s only a part of what made him so remarkable. He was incredibly passionate about art and culture, but humble about his place in that community. He knew everyone, and had the best stories, but never dropped names. Shawn knew what most thoughtful and intelligent people do, that people’s lives, however simple, make the best art. What made him unique was how he executed that. Every subject was given equal respect, equal measure. Not many contemporary photographers could do what he did – reconcile the business of photography with a sincere sense of social responsibility. More important than Shawn’s photography was who he was outside of it – he was a fiercely loyal friend and a true gentleman.

Shawn was the author of “Out of Mind”, a contributor to Vibe, i-D, Blackbook and Nylon among others. He was also a successful advertising photographer with clients such as Nike and AG. At the time of his death he was hard at work on his next book project – “MOR – Monster! Outlaws & Renegades”.

Rockers NYC T.V. Interviews Shawn Mortensen

Vibe Remembers Shawn Mortensen

Black Book – Shawn Mortensen, Rest In Peace

The Daily Swarm – R.I.P. Photographer Shawn Mortensen

Super Touch – In Loving Memory of Shawn Mortensen




There Are 15 Comments On This Article.

  1. Curtis Nogle

    Growing up with Shawn was a memorable experience. He was always one who would help anyone who was in need. He was always ahead of the game. He was always the you went to to get the latest news. He was always the greatest person. He will be missed in my heart…Always

  2. I was saddened to hear the news about Shawn. I met him in the 90’s when I worked at Photo Impact in L.A. I didn’t know him well but and I always really liked him as a person and as an artist. It’s been years but as I recall he was kind of funny too. My condolences to everyone close to him.

  3. Shawn was a great guy, good friend, and my favorite Planet of the Apes buddy! We worked together well because of our nerdish/childlike attitude and he helped me tremendously throughout my career. I will miss him dearly.

  4. mitchell keith eaton

    Remembering shawn on his first visit to nyc. he did not know whether he was coming or going but had such enthusiasm we always had a great time. he was a special someone and for his parents i have a polaroid of shawn on the top of the empire state building if they would like it i am happy to send it along. rip mitchell

    • Lori Carter Anjard

      @Joe Mortensen,Joey, I just recently heard about Shawn’s passing. I’m deeply sorry for your loss and my condolences to your and your family. Not sure if you remember me but I grew up with Shawn. We were in junior high and high school together and you lived down the street from me in Mission Viejo. I had been in contact off and on with him over the years and was just thinking about him when I came across our 10 year reunion program with picture of Shawn, myself and Michelle Lofaro. Could you please contact me via email. rip and god bless you Shawn Lori

    • Michelle Lofaro

      @Joe Mortensen, Hi Joey it is Michelle Lofaro. I just heard about Shawn a few days ago and am so sad for your family and for everyone because we can’t see him again. I have so many wonderful memories of Shawn from High School and our frequent visits to Tippie Canoes, concerts and just walking home from school with him everyday was loads of laughs. I can see why he became so successful in his photography career he could always pinpoint the one thing about a person that was unique to only them and then make you laugh about it. I remember him at my wedding in 1993 and I will treasure the comments I have made by him on my wedding video forever! Please send my love to your mom whom I always remember as such a warm and friendly woman my heart goes out to her and your family. Shawn your memory will live on in my heart forever, and your legacy as I have been taking in as much as your work as I can find over the past few days is truly amazing!! I would love to hear from you Joey.
      Love Michelle-Lofaro Cipolletti

  5. Shawn was an incredible human being who was gifted at being human.
    I will miss his drive, his passion, his humor, and his amazing photography.
    Sometimes a picture is worth a million words. Rest peacefully friend.

  6. @Joe Mortensen, Joey, would you email me please? I just read about Shawn’s passing. We had just recently re-connected. I wish I was able to make his showing a few weeks back. My condolences to your family.

  7. I did not personally know Shawn, but am a friend of his brother Joe. Joe, I am so sorry for your loss and have been thinking about you so much this week. I know this is a difficult time for you and your family and we’re there for you if you need anything at all. I wish I could say something that would ease your pain; but unfortunately this is your journey to get through with the love and help of those who love you. It sounds like your brother had an amazing life and was loved by so many…thats a wonderful feeling to be left with. We love you and you’re in our thoughts. Rest peacefully Shawn Mortensen.

  8. David Ingraham

    I’m sorry to admit that it took his death for me to even discover who he was. (what rock have I been hiding under?) What an immense talent and an immense loss.

  9. Death of Shawn Mortensen

    When my father died many moons ago, the fact hit home not to wait to tell the people that we love, or run across in life, anything positive that is in our minds at the time. Life is short. Time is short. So here goes… after the fact.

    I recently found out that Shawn Mortensen had passed away this year. I am always surprised when I hear about someone dying from high school, or from life in general. Part of me thinks… “Wow, I outlived another one,” but the bigger part of me feels loss and wonderment.

    I remember riding a big yellow school bus with Shawn for a year or two to El Toro High. At the time, he was heavily into The Who and looked right out of the movie Quadropenia. I remember him having these great eyes that were hard not to look at. People’s eyes always interested me. Eyes are the key to the soul. When talking to him, I would find myself spacing out sometimes just to look at them. He would realize that he had lost me in the conversation and would laugh.

    At school, he was a part of a small click of aspiring artists and musicians. Like most people from back then, I lost track of him. It was satisfying to see that he had excelled in a field that I love along with having many diverse adventures and experiences along the way.

    Rest in Peace Shawn Mortensen and to all of those to follow.
    Sean Surlow