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Personal Projects Feature:
Circus by Wendy Carrig


BTS 127vv


by Wendy Carrig

A short visual exploration of Gifford's Circus in 2016

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Circus by Wendy Carrig. All images © Wendy Carrig

How did this project come about? 

It was a spin-off from my pop-up portrait studio (another personal project) where the challenge of photographing members of the public is exciting and rewarding, so many interesting faces and stories, and I’m always fascinated by what people wear, especially a costume or a uniform. I enjoy photographing and recording local groups - the RNLI, Sea Cadets, small theatre companies - celebrating their strong identity, authenticity, culture, capturing them at work, at play, in the moment.
So when the circus came to town... 

Where were these shots taken? 

At the unique 1930’s-style Gifford’s Circus while they were pitched at Oxford University Parks, in the summer of 2016. 

What's the story behind these images? 

Fancy costumes, character faces, acts of daring and a sense of timelessness. And as a fashion photographer I’m always interested in what the artists are wearing.. 

How did you edit them down to the final cut? 

In the same way I edit all my work - do I believe? Is it real?
I chose these portraits where I felt the sitters looked real, that I believed the intent in their eyes and that their situation was genuine. I was looking for the person behind the costume, although I love the costumes..! 

How have your personal projects helped your commissioned work? 

The freedom of photographing people without restrictions allows me greater creativity, which in turn I can channel into my commissioned work.
As a professional photographer who shoots fashion and beauty, I work with a crew of around ten people where I’m often required to use my photography to show clothing in a particular way. So wandering alone around a circus field with just my camera allows me a sense of adventure & freedom to photograph how I choose.
I love finding new faces and places to photograph. Personal projects allow me to explore ideas and I hope show that photography isn’t just a job, it’s still an overriding passion. 

Tell us something surprising about this project

Circus life is hard work and the artists muck in on all jobs from selling candy floss to pulling up the big top. At one circus a trapeze artist I photographed fell from the high wire, landing very close to where I was sitting! Miraculously and thankfully he was okay.
This series of pictures from Giffords Circus was taken while I was on a commissioned fashion shoot, I managed to photograph the artists in the brief moments between shots - literally whilst the model was changing.

My sincere thanks to Nell Gifford at Giffords Circus for allowing me to photograph her extraordinary and unique circus. 

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