In 2003, professional wedding photographer Richard Sheehan of Quincy, Mass., was diagnosed with eye cancer. Even though he underwent many painful radiation treatments, the hospital removed his left eye as a health precaution. “I needed something to do, so I pulled out the cameras again,” he said. He embarked on a career in digital creative photography, calling his freelance business Good Eye Photography because, as he put it, “all you need is one good eye.”
On a sun-scorched day on the island of St. Thomas years ago, professional wedding photographer Richard Sheehan of Quincy forgot to wear his sunglasses.
A pretty young cocktail waitress warned him.
“She just pointed at me and said, ‘Zap! Something is going to get you. You should have your sunglasses,’” Sheehan recalled her saying.
It was something of a prophecy. In June 2003, Sheehan was diagnosed with eye cancer. Even though he underwent many painful radiation treatments, the hospital removed his left eye as a health precaution.
At the time of the diagnosis, Sheehan had given up photography and started a home repair business.
The cancer put an end to that because he had lost his depth perception and was in constant pain.
“I needed something to do, so I pulled out the cameras again,” said Sheehan, 52.
He embarked on a career in digital creative photography, calling his freelance business Good Eye Photography because, as he put it, “all you need is one good eye.”
Sheehan said losing an eye opened his mind’s eye to a new world of photography. He feels fortunate that the cancer didn’t take his right eye – the one he uses to compose images.
“I interpret things differently now,” Sheehan said. “Everything is in 2-D.”
Sheehan said he turned to photography in 1976 after he injured his leg while serving with the Army’s 7th Combat Engineering battalion at Fort Polk, La.
“They made a new job for me,” he said. “They made me the battalion photographer.”
He learned basic photography and darkroom skills. His photos appeared in the monthly newsletter.
After being discharged in 1978, he worked in retail photography.
In 1991, he took a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands and liked it there so much that he stayed.
“I ended up getting a job in a hotel as a photographer,” he said.
He returned to Quincy in 1992 and worked for Amtrak and FedEx. He later sold cars for a living.
About eight years ago, he started a home repair business, and the venture was successful until his cancer diagnosis.
“Actually, losing an eye changes your whole world,” Sheehan said. “It took me two years to feel confident while driving. I still do walk into people and they say, ‘What are you, blind?’ I say, ‘As a matter of fact, yes.’”
Sheehan, who uses a prosthetic eye, has traveled across the U.S., England, South Korea and the Caribbean, taking candid photographs of people and street scenes.
A photo of a little girl on the beach captures her shy innocence. In another photo, two children in Jamaica stand against a backdrop of the national flag on a stucco wall.
His photo “Bolt of Lighting Over Wollaston Beach” sold for $550. He posts his professional work on flickr.com.
Sheehan also does fashion photography and is always on the lookout for fresh subjects.
At a local doughnut shop recently, Sheehan noticed a friend and saw a perfect opportunity.
“Kaitlyn, you’ve got to give me 10 minutes some day. I’ll do your wedding,” Sheehan said.
The Patriot Ledger