D. Shigley, a Chicago photograoher who loved his work, his city, his extended family, and the blues, died in his home December 26 of a heart attack at age 46.
A solidly built, tersely articulate man with a quick, devilish grin and small, sharp eyes, D. seemed to know everyone involved in Chicago’s living workaday culture and the city itself from Homewood to 43rd Street, from Austin to the North Shore. He was perhaps most widely recognized for photos in the Reader, the Illinois Entertainer, Rolling Stone, Down Beat, Living Blues, and many other publications; some of his best known photographs show Mick Jagger and Keith Richards with Muddy Waters and Lefty Dizz, and Blues Brothers John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd partying with Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. D. recently published a poster-sized print of Muddy backed by the Stones titled Fathers and Sons. But Shigley was neither an acolyte nor a historian; he saw the blues as a direct, emotional expression of vivid, unpretentious people, and he enjoyed depicting the little-publisized musicians of Maxwell Street and south- or north- or west-side blues clubs as much as he did internationally acclaimed entertainers.
D. (for Durward, a name he never used) grew up in Hyde Park, and after starting to support his wife, Mary Ann, sons Mike, Tyler, and Scott, and daughter Julie as a truck driver, he determined to earn his living as a free-lance photographer. Besides his musical subjects and studies of spontaneous, often festive urban life, D. conscientiously documented weddings, babies, and real estate properties. His loft-studio, first on Kinzie Street and for the past six years on West Adams, was a meeting place for professional and apprentice photographers, musicians, writers, painters, record and concert producers, pool and ping pong players, dog owners, and lately clothing designers; it remains the home of Modalisque, an avant-garde fashion salon. During the past year and a half D. was obsessed with computer technology and had started a modem-based national bulletin board. He had also begun work on a semiautobiographical book about his favorite haunts.
D. Shigley usually shot black-and-white film with a 35-millimeter camera and wide-angle or telephoto lens; he used the SX 70 Polaroid camera masterfully for its immediacy. He never intruded on or manipulated his subjects; in his best work the images are candid, at ease, and offered to the viewer without comment. D.’s son Scott, 20, continues their business out of Shigley’s studio, and intends to complete his father’s nascent book. D. was cremated; a memorial service, hosted by Marguerite Horberg and the Parsons family was attended by some 200 of D.’s friends from all races, all ages, the hip and the square.
Clarity and self-assurance were among D.’s qualities. Both can be seen in his work, which was prodigious. He was a short but broad-shouldered man with a can-do attitude who believed action and pictures were worth more than words. Looks like he was right.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/D. Shigley.