I just learned today that photographer John Sevigny passed away on November 9th, after suffering a massive stroke. He was 54 years old.
I first spoke with John on Valentines Day of 2022. “I hope that you won’t take this as a bitchy letter,” he wrote to me on Instagram. “I want to thank you for the hard work you’ve done. I’m a Fuji X Weekly App Patron and I hope that it helps you continue what you’re doing. But I want to be specific about things that might be improved.” The message went on and on and on. It was the longest DM I’d ever received on social media, and that record holds to this day. He gave me a ton of helpful insights and observations that could only come from someone with a huge amount of experience with analog photography and cameras in general. John offered it matter-of-factly, but also kindly. “I hope my criticisms and observations are constructive,” he concluded, “but most of all I hope you will continue doing what you do.”
“I’ve been teaching photography forever,” John later told me, “and I’ve never seen an app as absolutely didactic and liberating as yours. Everyone uses your Recipes.” John Sevigny was a photography instructor, having taught for five years at la Universidad Centroamericana Jose Simeon Cañas in El Salvador, and guest lectured at many universities, including several in the United States. He was also a working photographer, and at times was employed by newspapers and magazines, and even worked for the Associated Press. There have been over 50 solo exhibitions of his photographs.
John Sevigny had published several books. El Muerto Pare el Santo in 2010; later Hymnal, Fire from Heaven, and Callejon de Milagros. Just a few months ago, he published League of the Dead, with Anders Lindborg as the editor. Anders, you may recall, has created or co-created a number of Film Simulation Recipes published on Fuji X Weekly. His Kodak Tri-X 400 Recipe is one of the most popular—and definitely the most popular B&W—and it was through this Recipe that John and Anders connected and became friends. Working together, the two of them created the Kodak T-Max P3200 Recipe, as well as another that has not yet been published.
John liked using Film Simulation Recipes on his Fujifilm cameras. He told me a year ago that Kodak Royal Gold 400 was one of his favorites for color, but he also used a modification of my original Classic Chrome Recipe a lot, the CineStill 800T Recipe occasionally, plus sometimes a modification of the Eterna Recipe. I’m sure he used others, too. For B&W, aside from the Tri-X and T-Max Recipes already mentioned, he apparently liked the Moody Monochrome Recipe.
The last thing that John Sevigny ever told me was, “I hope you had a great time!” That was in response to my Central Coast of California trip with Ken Rockwell back in June. I wish now that I had reached out to him sometime after that. It’s a real shame that I let so much time pass, and now it’s too late. Interestingly, back in March of 2022, one month after the initial message from John, he asked me, “What’s the hardest part of running Fuji X Weekly?” That turned into a back-and-forth conversation about time management and social media, specifically that social media can take up too much of your time if you let it. I think he really liked social media, especially the connections that one can make. It’s through social media that John and I connected; however, the sometimes overwhelming busyness of it prevented me from reaching out more than I should have.
John Sevigny was a great photographer, and I’m really sad that he has passed away. Prayers for his family, who I’m sure are still deeply grieving this loss.
I hope that you’ll take a look at John’s work. I don’t know how long his website or social media accounts will remain available, so don’t procrastinate. His books are sold out as far as I can find, but if you do find one, maybe think about picking it up.
Rest in peace, John Sevigny.