Barry Shainbaum [Hope and Heroes]

Duncan Sheik © Barry Shainbaum Studios

Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Duncan Sheik has donated his time to many causes including bringing musical instruments to the children of Kosovo and performing for many AIDS and world peace events.

Martin Sheen © Barry Shainbaum Studios

Veteran actor of such films as Apocalypse Now, Martin Sheen is an anti-nuclear and environmental activist who has risked his life toward the protection of baby seals in the Magdalene Islands.

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Shannon worked here for a year and she approached the majority of the people for Hope and Heroes - Portraits of Integrity. She would approach anyone - from Martin Sheen's office which has so many layers that it took weeks and months... The fact that Martin's show, The West Wing became so popular meant that after he was confirmed, I nearly lost him because he got so busy... It came down to...well, last February a year ago, I flew to Los Angeles. I had four days there and I had about three shoots. I arrived there on a Monday and I called the studio. They had already agreed to do their best to work it out so that I could shoot while I was there, and in the meantime I shot Art Linkletter and Ed it was an action packed day for this Canadian photographer.

While I was flying over I was thinking about how I could do a unique shot of Martin Sheen and I decided to focus on the fact he was a social activist and I came up with the idea to show him in handcuffs - let's have one hand cuffed and the other cuff hanging ...or, "whatever you do, you can't stop me", that was my idea. So I got to my hotel room in West Hollywood and got out the phone book and looked up prop houses and supply houses and I couldn't find anything. Then I called the West Hollywood police detachment. They didn't know who I was, and I offered them a thank-you in the book, for the use of the handcuffs. The sergeant said, "We understand, the book sounds interesting but we don't have any extra handcuffs, but I would suggest you try a place called "The Pleasure Chest" and he gave me the address. I went down there and they had a lot of men in leather and cases of handcuffs, and whips and chains, and all different paraphernalia and rubber of all different colours and locks and stocks...and I walked up to the case with all the handcuffs and I said to myself, "Well, I'm secure enough as a person that I don't have to explain the purpose of the handcuffs, they can believe what they want" and said, "I'm here for handcuffs." And I went with the ten-dollar U.S. special, in black. Now as a photographer you have to think of so many things and I thought, well, black handcuffs won't give me any reflective highlights that would cause a problem, while shiny chrome handcuffs may give me reflections but would contrast if he was wearing dark clothes. What I really should have done was bought two sets of handcuffs, one black and one chrome, but I decided just to go for the black. I took my handcuffs, said, "Good-bye, have a nice day", and walked out of there.

The next day was very grey and rainy. There were mud slides and torrential rains and I got to the Warner Brothers set, which was a series of over fifty long, low buildings and just huge. I got my accreditation to drive in there and it was just like a river going down through the front. I went inside and met one of his publicists and she walked me in, on the way to The West Wing set. There was Drew Carey, and all these people were walking by, and when we got to The West Wing, I was told that I could not photograph on the set but that I could set up like a studio off someone's office in the big, huge open area. I had brought my backdrop and my stand, and had come fully prepared. I set everything up and then Maria Stasi, who was my contact there - I sat her in a director's chair and I set up my lights and I photographed her in handcuffs just for fun, so that she could show her husband that..."How was your day dear?" "Well, I was handcuffed by a photographer in Toronto."... you know.

So meanwhile, eventually Martin comes by and was dressed casually and he was very friendly and we were chatting and he said, "Oh, so you want to handcuff me??? Hmmm, well, let's see." and he sits down in the chair and says, "Well, okay that's fine, I understand"...and then he says, "Wow, you photographed Shimon Peres. How do you get to Shimon Peres?" and we were just talking about a number of different things and I said, to him, "So look, I'd like to photograph you in handcuffs with one hand cuffed and the other hanging free, you do you feel about the idea of the cuffs, symbolically?" and he said, "I'll tell you what, why don't we do both hands cuffed? But give me the key first."

So I handed him the key and he sat there and handcuffed himself very admirably and I took a series of pictures of him and then right at the end I went beside him and Maria took a picture of the two of us. And then he said, "Hey, let's go on the set." I said, "Yeah!" So we grabbed my equipment and we walked right onto the set. On the way I met Aaron Sorkin, the director, and some other people...Rob Lowe was there...met a whole bunch of addition to most of the cast. So we go into the office of the President of the United States which is the set for the show. Meanwhile, he first was interviewed by a TV show called TV Guide, and I was watching and listening, and he sang Danny Boy. I said, "Martin, you've got to sing for me too", and he said, "Well, we'll see. I've got a good idea for a shoot." He took his shoes and socks off and sat down on the table, and he also sat in front a chair and said, "I've never been photographed casual in the Oval Office set." And he was just so great and was a really great guy.

We did the shoot and after that, we went to this trailer and on the way he bought me a cappuccino and we sat down and did the whole interview, and he was really easy to talk to. At the end he sang Danny Boy again, and then he told me a fable which was really, really cute and then he quoted me a Jewish proverb, and that was it.


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