Fine Art Photography Daily

Candace Biggerstaff: The Back Door

Big Tops

©Candace Biggerstaff, Big Tops

We all dream of running away with the circus, but in the case of photographer Candace Biggerstaff , at the age of 20, she joined the Circus Vargas and began a life-long passion of documenting life under the big top. Biggerstaff has spent the past four decades documenting circuses across the country – large, small and regional. What draws her interest is what happens outside of the big top, at the back door. It’s the behind the scenes moments that truly speak to the circus life – performers raising a family, getting ready for a show, or finding community in this age old profession.

Candace Biggerstaff was born in San Fernando Valley of Southern California. Her photography examines and documents intentional communities, nontraditional families, collectives, and circuses.

She graduated from 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 five years she has made Ashland Oregon her home. She is currently a member of BlueSky Gallery, Oregon, Los Angeles Center of Photography, Los Angeles CA, Circus Historical Society, Stratford, Connecticut, Colorado Photographic Arts Center, Colorado, Center for Fine arts Photography, Colorado, and is a Charter member of Women In Photography International, Los Angeles CA. Biggerstaff has been a member of Los Angeles Art Association, a member of The Lucie Foundation, and also resided as an “Artist in Residence,” at Studio Channel Islands Art Center, in Camarillo, California

She has exhibited widely including shows at Photo LA, the Los Angeles Art Association, Studio Channel Islands Art Center, and G2 Gallery in Venice, CA. Biggerstaff lives and works in Ashland, Oregon.


©Candace Biggerstaff, Cutie

The Back Door

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 tradition, like minded individuals that follow and choose an untraditional community that creatively makes community of the circus. 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 creative 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 ever-changing circus that combine generational traditions, creativity, with new artistic style and athletic mastery that continues to entertain us.

I’m passionately engaged in my continued documentation of the America Circus, by taking truthful, nonjudgmental, respectful images of circuses.  I admire the creators, and families who relish this way of life. 


©Candace Biggerstaff, Backdoor


©Candace Biggerstaff, Camelin

Cliffs's girls

©Candace Biggerstaff, Cliff’s Girls


©Candace Biggerstaff, Dinner Plans

Eyes have it

©Candace Biggerstaff, Eyes Have It

Meatball prep

©Candace Biggerstaff, Meatball Prep

Mess tent

©Candace Biggerstaff, Mass Tent


©Candace Biggerstaff, Ring Master


©Candace Biggerstaff, Make Up Show

Stretch it out

©Candace Biggerstaff, Stretch It Out


©Candace Biggerstaff, Waiting

Meatball intermission

©Candace Biggerstaff, Meatball Intermission


©Candace Biggerstaff, Woody Allen


©Candace Biggerstaff, Broom Master

Negative Lab Pro v2.2.0 | Color Model: B+W | Pre-Sat: 1 | Tone Profile: LAB - Standard | WB: Auto-Neutral | LUT: Frontier

©Candace Biggerstaff, The Next Stop

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