Cowart was shooting promotional photos for Schneider's show, 'The Haves and Have Nots'. The Tyler Perry-produced drama is the OWN network's first scripted drama, and centers on the lives of the upstairs and downstairs occupants of a Savannah mansion.
"John was one of my many subjects that day and like the rest of the cast, he was extremely professional, humble, and a lot of fun to work with," Cowart writes.
Later, when Cowart was snapping pictures of Schneider interacting with a female cast member, he was "very impressed by his ability to light up the camera and have a good time." But he had no inkling of what Schneider was going through.
Afterward, Schneider asked Cowart to take some additional portraits — and began weeping. At first, the photographer thought it was an act.
"He was so good at impressions that I thought this was another impression and I thought "wow, what an acting talent."
After realizing it was real, he stopped shooting and hugged Schneider.
"He whispered in my ear 'My Dad died about an hour ago. I found out during our lunch break. And I wanted you to capture that for me,'" Cowart reveals.
"I was stunned. Shocked. And deeply moved, obviously. I didn’t want to ask any further questions out of respect."
Schneider looked at the photos and pointed to the last one.
"That's it. That's my Dad," Schneider said.
The actor then gave his permission to Cowart to share the experience and the breathtaking, raw photos he took.
"I want to thank John for inviting me into his story, even just for a moment and for allowing me to capture this for him. As a father myself, I wept for him. We all did that day."
Schneider did not wish to be interviewed for this article, but sent this comment: "There is a hole in New York where my father used to be."
Cowart is a celebrity photographer, entrepreneur, and humanitarian. He founded a global photography movement called Help-Portrait and recently launched an iPhone App/Social Network called OKDOTHIS. His goal in life is to use his platform, ideas, and creativity to inspire and help others in need. You can follow him and see more of his work on his website and social accounts.
Kelly Woo writes for Yahoo TV