Award-winning Toronto photographer and video director Andrew MacNaughtan died suddenly Wednesday night of a reported heart attack while in Los Angeles on assignment for rock trio Rush.
MacNaughtan shot a who’s-who of Canadian talent since he began his career in the 80s as a teenager. His clients have included Bryan Adams, Avril Lavigne, Michael Buble, Sum 41, Nickelback, Celine Dion and hundreds more. Most notably, he was Rush’s primary photographer for tours, promo pics and album art for the past 20 years.
“We’re deeply shocked and heartbroken to learn of the sudden passing of our close friend and long-time photographer, Andrew MacNaughtan,” read a statement from Rush members Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart on their Facebook page and official web site. “He was a sweet person and a very talented artist. Words cannot describe how much he will be missed.”
In addition to the numerous comments on Facebook by members of the music industry and arts community, other artists including the Trews, Jann Arden, ex-Barenaked Ladies’ Steven Page and Great Big Sea’s Alan Doyle, all took to Twitter to express their sadness.
“RIP photographer/videographer Andrew MacNaughtan. A great and constant friend to GBS and to me. Much Love to his Family and Friends,” wrote Doyle.
“My dear friend Andrew macnaughtan passed away yesterday in LA,” tweeted Arden. “I will miss his kind and generous heart. Safe travels dear Andrew…”
“My friend Andrew Macnaughtan died yesterday,” wrote Page. “Awful news. He was a sweet guy & a great photographer. I was lucky to have known him.”
MacNaughtan directed over 70 music videos and his work graces the covers of more than 150 albums and press materials. Beyond music, he also shot promos for television shows, such as So You Think You Can Dance Canada, Top Chef Canada, ETalk and Battle of the Blades.
In 2006, MacNaughtan started Art Gives Hope and helped raise $55,000 (CDN) for families in Africa living with HIV/AIDS by selling his art at a fundraiser for World Vision Canada.
MacNaughtan has won numerous awards over his 25-year career, including four Juno Awards, for Our Lady Peace, Tom Cochrane, Rush and Jann Arden, two East Coast Music Awards and a MuchMusic Video Award for his work with Great Big Sea.
His latest fundraising project, Grace: Africa In Photographs, was life-changing for him. On a three-week trip to Kenya and Tanzania for a World Vision coffee table book, intended to result in more sponsored children, he photographed The Big Five – lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard – in their natural habitat; met the child he would end up sponsoring and another young man so enamored with the camera that he is now pursuing photography as a career.
“The trip, these photographs, this book is a symbol of all that is possible in a short time if you are willing to reach out. You never know what even a small gesture can do, as I happily found out,” MacNaughtan said in the book’s foreword.
“I hope people are inspired by my photographs to sponsor a child, but also to make that trip to Africa and see for themselves the magnificent beauty of the continent and meet the wonderful people. It will change their life, as it did mine.”