- Pain and sadness at the loss of a gem of a man, were etched on the faces of all who came out on Thursday (October 22), to pay their final respects to late Jamaica Information Service (JIS) photographer Michael George Washington Shaw
- Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson, Miller; Minister of Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, were among the congregants, which included government officials and journalists, with a large turnout from the photography fraternity.
- Born on May 26, 1956, Mr. Shaw worked at the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) from 1971 to 1972 and the Gleaner Company from 1972 to 1989, before moving to the JIS from 1989 to 1993.
Pain and sadness at the loss of a gem of a man, were etched on the faces of all who came out on Thursday (October 22), to pay their final respects to late Jamaica Information Service (JIS) photographer Michael George Washington Shaw.
The mood was mournful, as family, friends, colleagues and well wishers, who filled the pews of the historic Webster Memorial United Church on Half-Way-Tree Road, reflected on the life and work of the veteran photographer, who passed suddenly on September 30.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson, Miller; Minister of Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, were among the congregants, which included government officials and journalists, with a large turnout from the photography fraternity.
There were tributes in music with close friend, colleague and mentor, Michael Gordon, expressing his grief in a mournful harmonica strain.
Two large screens in the church captured Mr. Shaw’s over 40 years of work, and the engaging personality and warm spirit, which endeared him to many.
Mr. Shaw’s Brother-in-Law, Learie Miller, in his Remembrance, revealed snippets of his personal life, which lightened the mood, and elicited bursts of laughter.
He pointed out that Mr. Shaw, who was affectionately called “Mickey” or “Bigs” by his family and close friends or simply “Shaw”, by work colleagues was “always the life of the party” at Christmas dinners and family gatherings.
Mr. Miller shared that Mr. Shaw, who had a great love for his craft, always had his camera nearby to snap photographs of the family. The pictures he took over the years, are now considered collector’s items for the family, particularly the few in which he was captured.
Echoing the sentiments of all who knew him, Mr. Miller noted that during his career, Mr. Shaw was the ultimate professional, who was clearly loved and respected by his colleagues.
“Although he was not a man of tall physical stature, he was a giant among his peers in the photo journalism field,” he noted.
Mr. Miller said although Mr. Shaw is gone, “he is with us in lasting memories. We were privileged and honoured to have known him and had him as a part of our lives…We all have happy memories of Michael and these we must hold dear to our hearts and cherish them as he cherished us”.
In a touching tribute, Chief Executive Officer of the JIS, Donna Marie Rowe, said Mr. Shaw “was a man on whom we could depend to capture the great moments in the nation’s history”.
Describing him as a “gentle soul”, Mrs. Rowe said the JIS family has “lost someone deeply loved, deeply cherished.”
“Mr. Shaw was never abrasive, belligerent or disrespectful. In a field which sometimes requires some assertiveness to get the shot or the right angle, Shaw could never be accused of being rude or discourteous. He was not just an officer of the JIS, but a true gentleman,” she said.
She further noted that Mr. Shaw had had a huge impact on his colleagues in the photo department, pointing out that his death was a devastating blow to the close-knit group.
The CEO said Mr. Shaw, who was humble and easy going with a “quiet spirit” was an invaluable part of the JIS team and has left an indelible mark on his colleagues. Stressing how passionate he was about his craft, Mrs. Rowe noted that Mr. Shaw unselfishly shared his knowledge and skills as he mentored the younger photographers at the agency.
Minister of Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, who told JIS News that she has known Mr. Shaw for over 20 years, described him as “the consummate photo journalist”.
“I’ve known him since I was a young journalist and so I have watched his work over the years,” she said admiringly.
Senator Falconer told JIS News that they had a great professional relationship and recalls that she would always joke that he should “get my best side.”
The Minister said she is going to miss him dearly, sharing that she was shocked when she got the news that Mr. Shaw had passed.
“What makes it so sad is that I saw him at the Office of the Prime Minister about two hours before he died and he didn’t seem ill and he was his usual professional self…to lose someone in the prime of his life and while he is still at work, makes it even worse for us as we mourn his death,” she says.
Echoing the sentiments of all who interacted with him, whether on a personal or professional level, the Minister also shares that Mr. Shaw was “so mild mannered…always sweet, friendly. I’ve never seen Michael and he looked upset…he was just the sweetest soul.”
Born on May 26, 1956, Mr. Shaw worked at the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) from 1971 to 1972 and the Gleaner Company from 1972 to 1989, before moving to the JIS from 1989 to 1993.
He worked at the Jamaica Observer for three years, from 1993 to 1996, before moving to JAMPRESS in 1996. Mr. Shaw re-joined the JIS in 2000 after the entity was merged with JAMPRESS to become an executive agency.
Mr. Shaw passed away leaving his wife of 27 years, Curline; daughter, Khalia; sons Adrian, Lamario, Chevon, and Stevie; and three grandchildren.
He has also left a legacy of true dedication, commitment and passion. His pictures, frozen in time, will continue to tell his stories long after his passing, as other young photographers learn from the work of this great man, whom the JIS family will miss tremendously.