Sad to hear the news of Shawn Mortensen's passing.
I had been out of touch with Shawn and was reminiscing with a good friend today about my fondest memory of him from back in the glory days of "pre main stream" Hip Hop around 93'-ish. I was called in by Tupac Shakur to see about directing a video for him so he wanted to meet me at a recording studio in Atwater Village. I was new to the video directing game and super nervous about meeting with him as I had heard so many stories about his intense personality both on and off camera. So there I was in the studio lounge area waiting and nervous as hell and in walks Shawn.
He was commissioned to take some photos of Tupac but his camera gear was acting funny. From what I remember I think his camera body or flash unit was jacked up.
Just like me, he was also super nervous about making a good first impression on Tupac, but how was he gonna do that with gear that wasn't working properly? So now we had a pressing situation in our hands, after all he was supposed to be photographing perhaps the most promising and potentially relevant rap artist of the generation (according to the music press at that time).
So I tell him that I could make a call to a photographer friend who was close by to see if he had another body or unit and he agrees...but just when I was about to make the call, one of Tupac's boys comes out of the studio and tells me that "Pac was ready to see me now..." SHIT! As I stood up Shawn gave me that, "dude what am I gonna do?" look. So I tell him we'll call after the meeting. He says cool then gives me a good luck thumbs up...
After the meeting I'm stoked to come out and find that Shawn is in a better mood and that he had gotten his gear working properly. He asks me how my meeting went and I said I think it went well.
But unfortunately, I would end up not getting that gig (until the "Hail Mary" video which I directed after Tupac's death a few years later). Shawn had better luck however with his first shoot with Tupac and would go on to photograph the now famous and iconic VIBE MAGAZINE cover of Tupac in the straight jacket. He would also go on to make his mark on the arts and advertising worlds as well.
Shawn will be missed.