Circus News

Circus Life, Between Cues: A Photo Essay of Chicago’s Midnight Circus

Midnight Circus tours every fall in public parks around Chicago. I’ve worked with the company on-and-off since I was 14 years old–more than half my life. The same can be said for many members of the cast. As a result, the relationship between the artists, the directors, and our friends and loved ones is extremely familial. The back-lot of the circus is the setting for much of our lives lived together–a setting we create ourselves, inhabit, and dismantle. To be there is to experience a hyper-real lifecycle that, inevitably, ends far too soon.

The circus back-lot is an exceptionally romantic and emotional place, of course, but one that is also tedious and uncomfortable. It is a workplace that feels more like a secret clubhouse, where the deepest confidences are shared beneath the roar of the crowd. Embedded among the cast, with a surfeit of time, familiarity, and access, I have the leisure to capture these fleeting and intimate moments that few will ever get to see up close.

I shoot on an old iphone 6. I’ve broken and repaired the screen twice in the two-and-a-half years I’ve owned it. My phone’s storage is always low because I never delete anything. In this way, my phone is like an old film camera–I have to be selective with the shots I take, lest I run out of space when I come across a good photo opportunity.

My back-lot pictures are exclusively in black-and-white and portrait orientation. I’ve had no training in photography, and so I’ve taught myself by enacting a strict set of limitations in which I work. Before I had any idea how to compose and edit a photograph, I was overwhelmed by the apparently infinite amount of ways it could be done. Now that I have parameters to work within, I simply ask myself what story I’m trying to tell with a particular shot, and compose and edit the photograph to best tell that story.

 

 

Book Kennison
Circus Artist -United States
Book Kennison is a circus artist based in Chicago. His main discipline is juggling; his other pursuits include writing, music composition, and photography.

Book Kennison

Book Kennison is a circus artist based in Chicago. His main discipline is juggling; his other pursuits include writing, music composition, and photography.

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