For the past three decades, I have been photographing the intentional communities, nontraditional families, collectives that form around traveling circuses. This focused series started as a way to understand and enlighten my own contrasting opinions about what a family was or is.
Then it became a joyful way for me to explore and photograph the generations of family traditions, like minded individuals that follow and choose an untraditional work community that makes up a troupe of circus artists.
As many circuses have disappeared or evolved, I am quite aware of the clock ticking and the need to capture a culture that is in transition.
The imaginative evolution of the circus continues to hold my interest. I select traditionally old school or smaller family circuses; almost all have eliminated protected animals and have gone back to original circus acts that Europeans brought to America. I will continue to shoot the everchanging circus that combines generational traditions, with new artistic style and athletic mastery that continues to entertain us.
The main draw of a circus is the traveling troupe, that present and create a breathtaking show, together with other employees, and the company’s, traveling wagons, tents, and equipment. It’s the behind the scenes, that illustrate a broader picture of circus life – performers raising a family, getting ready for a show, and creating their own community in this age-old profession.
My goal with my circus images is to show all aspects of life on a Circus, I relish in showing what the audience doesn’t see, the backyard and lives of the circus community.
Candace Biggerstaff was born in San Fernando Valley of Southern California. Her photography examines and documents intentional communities, nontraditional families, collectives, and circuses. At 20, Candace joined the Circus Vargas and began a lifelong Brooks Institute of Photography while working in the Motion Picture industry for 27 years, at studios such as Paramount, Warner Brothers, Disney and CBS Radford. In the last six years she has made her home in Ashland, Oregon.
All images and text © Candace Biggerstaff
By Candace Biggerstaff
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