Who is Sheindie, the seemingly masked marvel who takes these great photos of blues players?
So who is the masked marvel who goes by the handle “Sheindie?” Many have asked the question, but very few know anything about them. Similar to the blues players of old using fake names to remain anonymous from town to town, Sheindie uses anonymity to help obtain some of the better shots of the modern area – especially in the blues department. No one knows Sheindie’s age, race, or gender. The only thing anyone has been able to figure out is this: Sheindie lives somewhere in the southeast. The only other thing you can dig up on them is one other outstanding fact: They are a comic lover.
Recently, TDBlues had a chance to “get together” with Sheindie to ask some questions. Here is a copy of the interview.
The bold text is us asking the questions.
What first got you interested in the blues?
It all started with Rock and Roll music and looking for it’s origins.
What first got you interested in photography?
It all began with art. In the beginning, I was using a camera and photography as a reference for my art. That grew into a love for photography.
Who is your favorite blues artist of all time?
If I had to pick one, I would say Son House.
Who is your favorite blues artist still playing today?
Cadillac John Nolden, without question. If you ever heard him play, you would feel the same way.
What is the most interesting blues photo you ever took in your opinion?
That would have to be Hubert Sumlin reconnecting with lil’ Howlin’ Wolf.
How many blues stars have you met?
I have met so many… Countless. Most people seem to enjoy the fact I have met and spoke with the likes of BB King, Buddy Guy, James Cotton, and some other more popular artists. However, I myself am most impressed with hanging with Hubert Sumlin in his dressing room, and interviewing Honeyboy Edwards.
Do you do any post production on your photos?
Some. Most of my post-production centers around color enhancement. Other than that, I pretty much stay away form the post-production effects.
What places have you visited in the name of the blues?
I have traveled all over. In the name of the blues, I have been to most of the hot spots including Clarksdale MS, Helena AK, Memphis TN, and New York City.
Do you play any instruments?
Actually I do. I play guitar. Currently I am playing on a ’76 12 string Yamaha acoustic, and a 6 string Martin acoustic.
How do you feel your photos contribute to the blues, or keeping the blues alive?
Well, for me the main contribution I can make through my photos is to help the memories of some of the lesser known blues stars of today live on. For instance, some of these artists have very few people shoot their portrait. It puts on me an added stress of getting the shot right – if I don’t, it is possible there may not be any decent photographs of the artists that stand the test of time.
Do you have any blues photos you consider historic?
Yes. I have two that personally, I find historic. One is of Robert Johnson’s original signature on the marriage certificate to Virginia Travis. The other one is the house Robert Johnson was born in. Both historic in their own right for sure.
Why keep your identity a mystery?
I’m a fan of comics/superheros, and it’s makes perfect sense to do so. I feel that it works in my favor as well.
What blues artist do you feel you most relate with?
I would say Jimmy Duck Holmes. He also has a large family, he is college educated, soft spoken, talented, and and had a humble beginning.
If you could go to any time in blues history and be the photographer, where would you go and why?
That’s an easy one. Mississippi in the late 20’s-to early 30’s. My favorite bluesmen were alive and playing, nd I would love to be able to see them play live, and watch them experience life.
Do you feel that there are more famous photos out there of Robert Johnson and others waiting to be found?
Absolutely! I see no reason why there wouldn’t be.
In your experience with the blues, how do you feel about the “sell your soul to the devil” superstition?
I feel the the hoodoo voodoo when I’m in the delta. I think the power of those stories tend to relate with the belief on the hoodoo/voodoo religion(s). For those who believe, the stories seem to make sense. To others, it is just a tale.
If ever in the area, are you willing to do a photo shoot of the Willie Brown headstone theDeltaBlues helped to place?
It’s something to think about.
What is your favorite subject to shoot? Buildings? People?
People. I try and capture the feeling of the blues in the faces of the musicians. It’s difficult to capture the honesty in people’s faces. It indicates the trust in the photographer. It is not the easiest thing to do. Usually, when people have a camera pointed at them, it is hard for them to be themselves, and even harder for a photographer to capture raw emotion in a shot. For some of the older blues musicians, it can be even harder.
Has any of your photos been published?
No. I shoot blues photos for my own personal use; however, I have no problem with publication of my work. As of right now, though, none of photos have been officially published.
Has anyone we know of taken an interest in your photos?
Yes! A lot of people have expressed an interest. Here are a few names I can rattle of of some people you may know.
American Blues Scene
Dick Waterman – “I spent a lot of time browsing around (your photographs). There’s a lot of good stuff in there.”
Do you or are you willing to sell prints of your photos?
No I am not selling any. Am I willing to sell them, no. I don’t take my photos to be profitable. I take my photos for personal reasons, and because it is something I love to do. I don’t do it for it to become a cash machine.
Have you ever thought of putting a book together (or already done so)?
I have not put one together yet, but down the road I see it as a possibility. Maybe someday that will turn into an ambition – but for now, I like things just the way they are.
Anything else you want to tell us?
I’m based in the Southeast. My camera is a Nikon S-640 (Which travels easily in my pocket). Photography is something I love, and I hope I continue to get the opportunity to continue taking photos. If I can bring some joy, or some kind of emotion to those viewing my pictures, it makes it that much better.
To see a ton of great shots from Sheindie, visit their Flickr feed by clicking here.