In Tribute: Andrew Shapter
by Margaret Williams
Photographs by Todd V. Wolfson
When the founder of Tribeza, Zarghun Dean, first met photographer Andrew Shapter in 1999, he handed him a prototype of the magazine he was hoping to launch. Dean remembers Shapter’s immediate response: “What can I do to help you succeed?”
Born in Fort Worth, Shapter first picked up a camera at age 12, his eye from then on forever in tune with the world around him. After studying political science at Texas State University and spending time in Washington, D.C., Shapter settled in Austin and began a long career in fashion and music photography and filmmaking. In 2006 he co-wrote and produced his first documentary, “Before the Music Dies,” and would go on to release multiple documentary, television and feature-length projects. “The Teller & the Truth,” from 2015, is the tale of Francis Wetherbee, a Smithville bank teller who’d been missing since 1974, and in 2016 Shapter worked on behalf of the U.S. State Department to produce “Refugees Are…,” a video documenting the worldwide refugee crisis.
Here at Tribeza we were lucky to have been the beneficiary of so much of Shapter’s work and talent. He collaborated with the magazine for close to 10 years and photographed many covers, including our first. Stephen Aravalos, who was the magazine’s art director from 2003 to 2005, remembers: “The first issue of Tribeza I picked up was at D Berman Gallery in 2002, and I was so impressed with the photography [shot by Shapter]. It’s hard to imagine the origins of Tribeza without thinking of Andrew. His photography helped shape its vision, and I was very fortunate to work with him.”
Shapter was a man of immense creative energy, compassion and generosity. Dean recalls a sentiment shared by many of Shapter’s friends and colleagues: “As hard as Andrew always worked, he always enthusiastically said yes to anyone who needed his help. When you worked with Andrew, his sheer will brought the tide that raised all boats.”
After a yearslong battle with cancer, Shapter died on February 23, at the age of 52. He is survived by his wife, Christina, and two children, Faron and Ford, to whom we send our deepest condolences. Dean put it best when he said, “From all of us who are grateful for your generosity, Andrew, thank you.”