Challenging Stories

I graduated from Missouri State University in the Spring of 2013. During my time there, I spent two years photographing for the school newspaper, The Standard. The first lesson (after writing appropriate captions!) was to photograph faces—faces capture the attention of potential readers, faces tell the story, and faces sell newspapers. At the time, the prospect of confronting people with the camera was intimidating. However, I had a job to do and a deadline to meet and I learned how to be inconspicuous during events in order to photograph people without their knowing. The requirement to photograph people for the newspaper began to inform my personal work.

My new series of photographs, Challenging Stories, was a reaction to the photographs I was making for the newspaper. Having spent much of my time photographing in a deceptive and so-called “candid” way, I wanted to change directions and photograph people in a direct, confrontational and honest manner. The idea is simple—Using a small flash unit and a handheld camera, I put each subject in the middle of the frame and light them the same way every time, which provides uniformity that directs the viewer’s attention to the person rather than the setting or style.

Photography allows me to stare at strangers and contemplate who they might be. I approach people and begin our conversation by declaring, “I’m on a mission to photograph everyone in the world.” I quickly introduce myself, make one or two photographs, and move on. I suggest how they should present themselves, i.e. to not smile, lower their chin, and look directly into the lens. By and large, I photograph people in my hometown, Springfield, Missouri and surrounding communities. While Springfield is a small town, I have discovered a wide variety of individuals and events in the small area of the world in which I live.

Since I am introvert by nature, it is intimidating for me to photograph strangers without having a reason to talk to them. I prefer to find situations where it is easy to approach people. I find my subjects at idiosyncratic social gatherings such as a masquerade ball, dance competition, beard contest, or Halloween party. Sometimes the situation might be as ordinary as a craft show or vendor fair where entrepreneurs display their wares. In these situations, people are open to being photographed. I am fascinated by people who are on display for some unique characteristic or talent.

My photographs show an array of subtle emotions; the smallest raising of an eyebrow or twitch of the mouth can radically affect one’s perception of a person. Additionally, exposures made only a fraction of a second sooner or later can result in entirely different expressions. Ultimately, my subjects are actors in a collaborative performance, projecting emotions and expressions provoked by the camera.

As I consider my portraits, I wonder about the true nature, the life stories, of my subjects. The best portraits for me are those where the personal stories are mysterious and inexplicable, whose beauty is totally unexpected.

Josh Campbell

[click for slideshow]

Red Rock Induction Ceremony

Trunk or Treat

Great Ozarkan Beard Off

Trunk or Treat

Spring Fling Craft Fair

Great Ozarkan Beard Off

Springfield Dance Alliance

Creme de la Creme Masquerade

Great Ozarkan Beard Off

Springfield Dance Alliance

Great Ozarkan Beard Off

Spring Fling Craft Fair

Creme de la Creme Masquerade

Great Ozarkan Beard Off

Red Rock Induction Ceremony

Red Rock Induction Ceremony

Creme de la Creme Masquerade

Springfield Dance Alliance

OCH Halloween Fest

Creme de la Creme Masquerade

Creme de la Creme Masquerade

Spring Fling Craft Fair

Great Ozarkan Beard Off

Trunk or Treat

OCH Halloween Fest

OCH Halloween Fest

Spring Fling Craft Fair

OCH Halloween Fest

Creme de la Creme Masquerade

Spring Fling Craft Fair

Red Rock Induction Ceremony

OCH Halloween Fest

BW Film Portrait

Spring Fling Craft Fair

Spring Fling Craft Fair

Spring Fling Craft Fair

Great Ozarkan Beard Off

Creme de la Creme Masquerade

Springfield Dance Alliance

Springfield Dance Alliance

Great Ozarkan Beard Off

Springfield Dance Alliance

Spring Fling Craft Fair

Spring Fling Craft Fair

Springfield Dance Alliance

Red Rock Induction Ceremony

Creme de la Creme Masquerade

Great Ozarkan Beard Off

Spring Fling Craft Fair

Spring Fling Craft Fair

OCH Halloween Fest

OCH Halloween Fest

Great Ozarkan Beard Off

Springfield Dance Alliance

Springfield Dance Alliance

Great Ozarkan Beard Off

BW Film Portrait

OCH Halloween Fest

Creme de la Creme Masquerade

Springfield Dance Alliance

 

Josh Campbell is a professional photographer from the Queen City of the Ozarks, Springfield, MO.  After graduating from Missouri State University’s photography program and working for the award winning newspaper, The Standard, Josh ventured into the exciting realm of freelance photography.  Though fully immersed in the world of digital photography, Josh shoots B&W film and makes silver gelatin darkroom prints for his self-assigned projects.  

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