The photographic work of Shaun van Steÿn is enduring, capturing the raw essence of life in visual poetry. Shaun’s artistic expression results from a balancing of “inner and outer vision” with profound personal experience. His steadfast approach to exploring new and different ways of working the photographic medium, both in the wet dark room, and now in the dry digital room, passionately supports each image.
Born in London, England, 1943, during the Blitz and a victim of repeated air bombing raids, his eardrums suffered damage. Challenged by impaired hearing in his early years, his heightened visual awareness commanded an extra sense of perception. Shaun had the luxury of experiencing life under extraordinary circumstances, growing up with such fascinating parents- his mother, Doorn van Steÿn, an accomplished actress and international ice skating star, and his stepfather, the well known actor Roger Moore. Beyond the celebrity and glamour, his parents provided him the great opportunity of adventure and travel, introducing distant cultures and languages, and indoctrinated him as a citizen of the world.
In 1955, Shaun moved to the young state of Israel, where he furthered his study of the visual realm. It was at this time he got his first camera, a Brownie, which used 120 film. Thus he embarked at an early age on a journey to capture unique imagery. His first photos in Israel included Roman archeological sites such as, Ceasaria, to the deserted Arab dwellings of Jaffa and various Kibbutzim.
Eventually, this mission spanned the globe, taking him to iconic lands where he captured innovative compositions of light and subject—from the peak of Mount Fuji at sunrise, to the mystery of the Amazon, the solitude of the Sahara, the wilderness of the Australian Outback, and to the many countries behind the Iron Curtain, as well as China. From the heat of the Dead Sea to the cold of the Arctic, his journey has encompassed all continents.
Over the following decade Shaun lived in Spain, Guatemala and Canada, and then moved to the United States. Shortly thereafter, he enrolled at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, DC, and studied fine art photography. During this time he created ‘Last Steps of Labor, which won him his first major award in the international photographic competition entitled MILK (Moments of Intimacy, Laughter and Kinship). The companion book ‘Family’, featured Shaun’s selected work, which shared pages with noted Pulitzer Prize recipients. This achievement, along with the support of his academic mentors, helped launch Shaun into a successful career as a professional photographer. Continued
Shaun van Steÿn’s imaginative visual statements have graced a variety of national and international magazines. He has been given photo assignments from publications such as American Heritage, People, Time, Washingtonian, and the Washington Post, among others. One assignment led him to climb the antenna on top of the World Trade Center. From this era, Shaun bridged into marketing his pictorial images through stock photo agencies. One of his prints received the third highest gross ($11,500), in the history of the agency, which represents him. Shaun has received several commissions from Fortune 500 and other local firms and patrons for his captivating images of light and form.
An established Washington area artist and photographer, Shaun van Steÿn’s eloquent work has been shown in a wide variety of galleries: ‘Colors in 2006 and again in 2010 at the Georgetown University Lombardi Cancer Center, Washington, DC, ‘Art of the Orchid’ at the Byrne Gallery, Middleburg, Virginia, and a bright exposé ‘A Question of Why’ at the Krescent Moon Gallery, Staunton, Virginia.
For 6 consecutive years Shaun has been chosen as a selected artist with the prestigious Whitman-Walker Clinic’s Annual Art Auction ‘Art for Life’. In 2010 he was elected as one of the four life time honorees. The prestigious Élan Magazine has published a feature article on Shaun and his work.
In 2009 the Workhouse Arts Center, Lorton, Virginia, ‘First Juried Photographic Competition’ with the notable juror, Ann Shumard (Curator of Photography at The National Portrait Gallery, DC), selected two of Shaun’s photographs from his ‘LOOK’ series, ‘Look In’ and ‘Look Sideways.
In 2010 Catriona Fraser of the prestigious Fraser Gallery selected ‘Midnight Cereus’ and again in 2011 with ‘Aurora’ for her annual Int’l Photographic Competition.
Outreach Director of Falls Church Arts (FCA) for 13 years, Shaun has collaborated efforts to expand and broaden the art culture of the city by forming bonds with other major art organizations in the Metro area www.fallschurcharts.org. He has been an active artist participant in all of the FCA events during that tenure including the FCA film festival, annual artist shows and juried in exhibits. In 2009 FCA opened the doors to their new gallery ArtSpace which they share with the theatrical group Creative Cauldron. Shaun has actively participated in all of FCA’s juried shows since and is a regular contributor to the Falls Church News-Press and other periodicals. His support and sponsoring and active participation continues for various causes helping those in need.