Photographer honors her slain father with her first gallery
She took the words as a gesture of love, never believing it would come true.
“He would always say, ‘I would give my life for either one of my kids,’” said Shelby Seaton of her father, Rodney Seaton.
In 2012, while walking along Market Street in York with his son Jeremy, 23, and his friends, a car pulled up and began shooting at them.
The elder Seaton pushed his son to the ground, struck by the bullet that was meant for Jeremy Seaton.
“My brother was holding my dad while he was dying,” said Shelby. “That’s a pain you wouldn’t want anybody to feel.”
Finding out that the incident was a case of mistaken identity didn’t help ease the pain of the family.
“I know we all grieved differently,” said the 25-year-old York city native, who turned to photography to help with her healing process.
She immersed herself in what she described as her “365” project. Shelby began taking one photo every day for a year.
“It made me go out,” said Shelby. “It made me say, ‘OK, like, today you don’t get to sit in that sadness.’”
Shelby pulled herself out of her home every day. Every day she would look for something or someone to photograph.
Most days, those "someones" were strangers. Talking to strangers came easy to Shelby, a trait she shared with her dad.
"He talked to random people all the time," said Shelby, "My family tells me I get that from him."
The project evolved from a one year endeavor into three years of documenting and storytelling. Over that time, Shelby’s conversations with strangers helped with the grief through the stories they shared.
“I see my dad in the faces of strangers all the time,” said Shelby, who credits one subject, Slim, for helping put things in perspective. “He said, ‘I think the best day was when I realized I was alive.”
Over the years, Shelby randomly shared her photos on her Facebook page.
Now those photos can now be seen on display at Marketview Arts in a gallery dedicated to her father.
On the wall next to the photos of strangers hangs a portrait of her dad, described with a paragraph she wrote about him.
Once sentence reads, “He didn’t have much, but would always give whatever he could.”
In the case of Rodney Seaton, this meant giving his life.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: "Strangers": Photography by Shelby Seaton
WHEN: Through Oct. 15; opening reception is 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7
WHERE: Marketview Arts, 37 W. Philadelphia St., York
COST: Admission to reception is free. 20 percent of every sale will be donated to Mr. Sandy's Homeless Veterans Center