Interview: Anastacia Campbell Captures Life Through Her Lense
By Karen Rani on August 21, 2006
Anastacia (Stacy) Campbell Photography first reeled me in with her picture of a lonely baby shoe on the masthead of Notes From The Trenches. From there I visited Stacy's beautiful website and felt sadness, hope, love for animals, and faith in humankind. Stacy's photography is really like no other. It's raw, open and honest.
I interviewed Stacy, via email, and her modest answers surprised me:
1) When did you first pick up a camera? Did someone foster your love
I wish I had a heart-warming story of inspiration, but I
got involved with photography when I was a sophomore in high school.
The photography course was legend, and having only a certain amount of
slots, it was coveted - partly because it was fun, but mostly because
students got out of class and could roam either the school or the
campus without question. In high school that was important. My
interest grew and grew and continued through my first year of college,
and then my interest in photography didn't go much far beyond taking
drunk pictures of me and my friends in states of various states of
When I first got involved with blogging in the spring of 2005, I
discovered that normal and "real" people could produce images that
would take one's breath away. It sounds stupid, but I had thought for
so long that the best pictures were taken by the professionals, and
that "ordinary, non-professional" people produced "ordinary,
non-professional" work. Seeing literally thousands of works of art
created by someone I could know in real life inspired me, so I bought
an entry-level SLR. It was the first time in about 8 or 9 years that I
picked up a camera with the intent of taking a photograph to capture
beauty, and not merely a friend doing a keg stand. I haven't stopped
since. It began as a creative outlet - something to help me deal with
life and anxiety and depression and all the stressors that we all face
daily. It has become something that I cannot live without.
2) Do you carry your gear with you all the time?
No, and I really should. I see so many moments or things
that beg to be captured and I want to kick myself for missing the
opportunity. If I carried it with me every day, I'd be stopping on the
side of the highway, taking little "breaks" to capture all the things
going on around me, and it would probably make me a better
photographer. Unfortunately, I need to get over my love affair with
3) What inspires your work?
Moods, emotion, life. The shots I take are frequently
colored with whatever mood I'm in at the time. If I had to say one
thing I love about my photography or photography in general, the one
thing that is most important to me, it's that I feel like a
little bit of me is in there in each picture. Maybe that's
the point of photography in the first place, I don't know, but it makes
As I have continued growing this past year and a half, my boyfriend has
been incredibly supportive and encouraging and has opened up my eyes
and mind by introducing me to the work of several of the Icons. Henri
Cartier-Bresson, for example. Robert Capa, Robert Frank, Sally Mann,
Diane Arbus. They inspire me, they have been where I can only hope to
go. Their subjects are all Everyperson - no celebrity, nothing fancy,
gimmicky - their true art comes in making the ordinary extraordinary.
It's an avenue that I'm fascinated with. I don't want to take shots of
pretty people, shiny, new things. I want to capture someone's
character, the destruction of history and life in general, things that
one ordinarily wouldn't look twice at. Each of those artists have had
such a profound influence on me. If there were a Tiger Beat for adult
photographers, I'd have a dreamy poster of Cartier-Bresson over my bed.
4) You say your Detroit collection is the project you are most proud of. Some of those pictures make me feel sad, yet curious as to where you were and what you were seeing
through your lense. Can you describe your time there and what makes it
your favorite collection?
First of all, thank you. That even one of my shots makes
one feel something is a huge compliment; for me, the shots that make me
think or feel are the best ones and it's something I really aim for.
Especially in this collection. I started shooting Detroit because it
was convenient, but (and here comes the nerdery), I feel like I know
the city intimately having trekked through it. I've developed a sort
of reverence for Detroit. It's more than a fondness - it's kind of
like how one can hate one's brother or sister but those who dare say
anything negative about them had better watch out. Detroit needs a lot
of work and TLC that it's not getting, but I won't let anyone say
anything bad about it. I'm proud of these pictures for a few reasons,
the first of which being that this is the avenue or type of photography
I want to do forever. This is "It" for me: capturing the people,
things and places of a real city; the things that nobody particularly
pays attention to as they drive through because there's a certain
comfort in distancing onesself from all of it.
It's overwhelming exploring an abandoned school or a destroyed apartment house, for instance, because those who fled leave little parts of his or herself behind. Toys (or things having to do with children) are the worst to see. It's amazingly emotional and breathtaking to experience these places,
because you can't help but wonder: where are these people now? Where
is the kid who loved this teddy bear, wore this shoe? Are they safe?
I never leave one of these explorations without feeling that, no matter
what is happening in my life or what stress I'm battling, I'm so lucky
for everything I have.
I can take shots of a lot of different things and feel peace or
happiness, but the second I put my Detroit hat on (so to speak), I feel
defiant, angry, frustrated, sad. I hate that too few people pay
attention to what is really going on in the periphery. There's a quote
that I love from Picasso: "Every act of creation is first of all an act
of destruction." If there's one way to describe the Untitled Detroit
Project, it's that. Look around at the new lofts, the sky-high office
buildings. And then look around the corner at the apartment home,
still smoking from the fire, that housed 10 now homeless families.
It's really powerful.
5) You have a few people in your People collection. How do you approach strangers and ask for their picture?
Not very well, sadly. I'll roll on a dirty floor and
contort myself into impossible angles to get a particular shot, but I
curl up in a little ball of shyness when it comes to photographing
people. It's a barrier that I want to - need to - break down, and one
can only do it through practice, but I'm petrified. I feel like
they'll get mad or that I'm intruding on their privacy. I read article
after article that indicates that's not the reaction typically given,
but even so, it scares me. The few shots I do have are mostly friends
and family that put up with me because they have to, or children who
don't really have a choice in the matter. I did have one extremely
positive experience on the street with Robert, a man
I met while walking around with my camera. He was sitting on the
corner of an intersection and struck up conversation with me. He was
so pleasant, so warm, and wanted his picture taken. He was so
wonderful. I don't know what his story was - he could have been
homeless or just a nice man taking a break. I just wanted to talk to
him like I would anyone else. They should all be that easy.
6) What's next for (Jurgen Nation) Anastacia Campbell
Other than changing the name (I wanted to put some distance
between my photography and my blog so that people I wouldn't
necessarily want to visit my blog wouldn't somehow get there), I hope a
lot of things. I want to increase my visibility by marketing a little
bit, get my portfolio tightened up. I'm in the midst of preparing
gallery submissions, which is immensely daunting. I want to sell,
sell, sell more prints. I want to slowly turn my photography hobby
into a career, and that means I really have to step things up and
buckle down. And sell. And convince people to buy my work for their
walls. I'm a horrible salesperson, though, so that has to change if I
want to get out of a horrible career and into something I love. Hey,
so, no pressure or anything.
It's not easy wearing both hats as an artist. I wish Stacy the best of luck with her endevour, though I have a feeling Stacy will realize her dreams if she continues to capture the world through her very talented eyes, and lense.
Photo courtesy and copyright of Anastacia Campbell Photography
by Lisa Stone