Self Portrait In Phoenix. Roosevelt Avenue, Phoenix, AZ. 2017. Polaroid SX-70.

Self Portrait In Phoenix. Roosevelt Avenue, Phoenix, AZ. 2017. Polaroid SX-70.

Growing up my Dad had a photo box filled with polaroids and papery square photographs of himself. I was born was he was 45; he had lived an entire life before my sister and I came along. There were pictures of Dad on a cruise, at a wedding, in front of the White House. Dancing! Playing the guitar! Pointing a gun! Standing in front of house number 22.

Because my dad is both from another generation and country, his connection to me was strong and deep but essentially non-verbal. Attempts to know his story are generally waved away and promptly replaced by a command to eat. As a young girl his photos gave me what I wanted: access to his narrative, his joy. 

Because my parents are divorced my Dad would pick us up every Sunday and take us to Greek diners in New Jersey and the arcade and the mall. On a regular basis he would take our picture with his Polaroid 600 camera, the perfect camera for the utilitarian photograph. Posing in front of his car in my 90's bucket hats and overalls, I received his direct attention and then the thrill of holding the photograph right away. My first love was that machine. 

For the last fifteen years I have interfaced with life through photographing. I have captured births, weddings, families, travel, everything from a self-portrait at 41 weeks pregnant to the placid face of an old boxer dog on a leash outside of a pizza shop in New York City. But the theme I return to throughout the years, where the needle of my heart is affectionately stuck is childhood. I see light dancing through my daughter's pigtails and my heart goes still. My muse is a shirtless 8 year old boy running through the sprinkler. Working with kids opens the door to the themes that rule my creative heartspace: origins, wonder, infinite preciousness, big emotion, timeless absorption in the present moment. 

I use film because for years I wanted to be a painter like my mom. Film allows me to paint pictures with light boxes - an ever-growing collection of machines and methods best suited to the task. The films I use are textural, experimental, often-antiquated, sometimes-lo-fi and full of grain and imperfection. Film allows me to render my subjects in time; not capturing them merely but cementing the moment in physical history with an artifact. Film is emotional. Film is poetry. We dream and we remember in film.  

In 2018 I founded Childhood On Film, an online collective gallery of film photographers from around the world. United by our love for film, we share the process, stock and camera behind our images of childhood. We host collaborative giveaways where film is awarded to a winner to create a small body of work for Childhood on Film. We do series such as On Film In:, highlighting what it's like shooting film in different cities. Our contributors share both images of beauty and their photographic process; we pull back the curtain on our images and transparently discuss technique, believing that as artists our growth is bound up in one aonther. Join us at @childhoodonfilm

 

Anastasia Campos

2018