The Greenville story of: Bart Boatwright

A photographer that shoots for good

By: Wyatt Edward Stephens

Link to GoFundMe referenced within story

How long have you been in the Greenville area?: Since 1990, I graduated college and two days later I started working for the Greenville News.

What is your background? I grew up in Belton. When I was twelve or thirteen I started playing with cameras. At the time, my mother had a little camera and one day, I picked it up, rode my bike around town like I always rode but this time I started taking pictures. I would take pictures of my friends, family, you name it. Anything. I never put it down and I remember that year, for Christmas going into eighth grade, I got my first camera. It was a 35mm camera and I started taking pictures with it, I never put it down. I took photos all day that Christmas and came to realize that I did not load the camera film the correct way. I eventually learned how to do that and to get going.

I was involved in sports in high school and played football, I wrestled and ran track, and though I was never good at any of them, I started taking pictures of the track meets and brought a picture to the then Honea Path Chronicle. I told the paper what I had, pictures of a track meet, and they said, ‘great, can you process that [pictures]? We can print them.’ Well, I had seen it done once and I said, ‘oh, sure, I can do that.’ They [Honea Path Chronicle] put me in this backroom, a darkroom and I somehow came out with a useable negative which they printed. It ran in the paper and I was thrilled. Years later I would see that specific picture and realize that it was upside down, which essentially read ‘Bears’ backwards.

When I graduated high school, I knew I wanted to go into journalism. I was not the best student, I was an ok student, so I honestly had to find a college where I could get in. It was a school in North Carolina, ‘Chowan College’ and it was located in Murfreesboro. They had a photography program, it lasted two years as the school was a two-year Baptist College, and I graduated from the school. I then went to Ohio University which is leading school in photojournalism which is where I got my Bachelor’s Degree in that field, photojournalism.

When I was home during the summers, I would intern at the Anderson Independent and then I would call Fred Rollison, Chief Photographer in Greenville [Greenville News]. When I was home, I would get some work from them [Greenville News] and upon graduation from Ohio University, Fred would tell me a guy was leaving the Greenville News and would start working for Greenville [Greenville News]. I was there for twenty-nine years.

I just lost my job in January, it has been a tough time, especially as I was there for a longtime. When I found out, I told my wife and she said, ‘a lot of people have to die before they find out who their real friends are.’ I found out right after I lost employment that I had to give all the equipment back, they [Greenville News] owned it. What do you do? I didn’t really have anything [equipment] for work. My family and I were trying to figure out what we were going to do and that is when Marc Dopher [WYFF4] started a GoFundMe page that enabled me to buy a lot of equipment, equipment that I need to work and live. It showed me how many friends that I have, how people are good. Marc was very instrumental in that, it was a life saver. Marc got me back on my feet, friends lift you up. Marc lifted big.

I am now working for the Clemson Insider. I combine two things that I enjoy the most: photography and sports. I am also freelancing for different ad agencies in Greenville and other outlets.

My wife, Lynita, is from Belton as well, she is three years younger than me. Her sister is my age, I knew them [family] and I was home for the summer, her and I turned into a summer romance. Then, I went back to school in Ohio and we started dating long-distance for close two two and-a-half years. Amazingly she has put up with this job [photojournalism] for all this long because it is hard, this is not a nine-to-five job. It is a lot of weekends and nights. I contribute a lot of success to my wife.

We have two boys, a seventeen year old, Hayden and Chandler who is twenty-four years old, great boys. They are such good people and the way they treat their mother makes me proud. Hayden wants to be an airline pilot, he wants to go to Embry-Riddle which is in Daytona and Chandler does well and works for a company in Belton.

What is the most interesting fact about you? I believe that my job is pretty interesting. Being a sports fan, and being able to do what I have done over my career, I never thought that I would do this. I grew up a Clemson fan, I remember being in the ninth grade and watching Clemson win the National Championship. You go on thinking, this is great, they are going to win many more. But it took us time to get there, and I have been fortunate to be there for those recent championships. I’ve been to Super Bowls, Women’s Final Fours, World Series, BCS Bowl. I’ve covered almost every sporting event here within the Southeast.

Being a photojournalist will not make you rich but I have gotten to see and be at things most would have only dreamt about.

I am pretty good at the ‘Gatorade Shot,’ I got pretty good at that. Be at the right place, the right time. However, there is a picture that was known that resonates with me, some people on this [ShareGVL] might have seen it and I hope it resonates with them.

[Picture removed by ShareGVL out of respect for Greenville News’ copyrighted works]

I covered numerous hurricanes when I worked at Gannett. I was in New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina and I have a picture of a young lady, she was a teenager and she had two girls. I took a picture of this young lady holding her two girls and the young lady is crying. I took the picture, and it is survivor’s guilt as it was a work trip I was on, so we all left shortly thereafter I shot the photo.

It is terrible to say but I sadly thought those two babies would not make it, there was a lot of guilt because the babies had a lot of breathing problems and I was helpless. There was nothing I could do about it because we were only allowed to cover events being with the press, not help.

Time would go on, my wife got a Facebook Message and their mother found my wife on Facebook. The girls are grown now, they are high school athletes. They made it.

Their mother just wanted to thank me, just because I got their story out. It was nothing that I personally did, but you get this feedback and you hear of these rare occasions and wonder and hope that there are more pictures that have made a difference. To me, that picture is the most important picture that I have ever shot. All the sports stuff, sure, but something that might have helped, amongst the many other pictures from other photographers during that time, pictures that likely triggered the government into seeing what was going on and acknowledgement [response]. That is important.

What are you currently reading and/or watching? I should be reading, I haven’t in a bit but I like biographies. I like Killing Eve on BBC.

What is your hobby(s)? I have gotten away from it, but my favorite all time show is the Andy Griffith show. But I have enjoyed meeting and continue to meet members from the Andy Griffith Show. They only one that I haven’t met is Ron Howard.

I enjoy hiking as my wife and I like to go to Table Rock, walking the neighborhood.

What phrase do you live by? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I think that is how I like to live my life by going out of your way to help people. I always try to put myself in their shoes, someone recently did so for me.  

How would you describe Greenville? I am amazed at what has become of Greenville. I remember being so mad when they tore up Camperdown because of a bridge, but how shortsighted was I? The growth the Liberty Bridge, Flour Field, Swamp Rabbit Trail and everything has been nothing short of amazing. I think anybody would say the same thing but I worked in Downtown, like you [ShareGVL] you connect with downtown and the people that live there.

How would Greenville describe YOU? That short and bald photographer.

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