Words by Andy Jenkins
One thing that really inspires me is getting to know and working with innovative, creative, and positive people.
And I must be lucky. Through total acts of serendipity, I meet a lot talented human beings, Craig Abell-Champion being one of them. About 20 years ago, I received a package from a design studio called Ohio Girl in Chicago. In the box was a VHS tape with a recording of a 16mm skate film called Cornland. An impressive, beautifully artistic piece, featuring the underrepresented Chicago skate scene. It was unlike 90% of the skate videos at the time.
It turned out Ohio Girl and Cornland were the work of two photographer friends who spent a lot of time in a darkroom printing and brainstorming. That’s where Craig Abell-Champion and Andy Mueller came up with the idea for the film, which has now acquired underground cult status. I got to know Mueller well after he moved to Los Angeles but I lost track of Craig, only occasionally hearing from Mueller about his amazing photography. Eventually, I found out he’s also a director and a writer. These are impressive skills individually, but having them in one artist can make them formidable.
“Actually, I don’t see them as mutually exclusive,” he told me when we finally met, over burritos in Torrance. “It homogeneously employs all three skills and allows me to make a story. My main project now is a longtime dream and mashup of all three skills. It’s my first feature film, Recess, and photography played a pretty big role in character development and creating the world for the story.”
Craig took several trips to Las Vegas for prep, “I spent time off the strip in the parts of Vegas people do not want to go. For example, a notorious neighborhood called Naked City. I photographed residents and talked with them.” He shot with a Holga, and the photos in this article are from years shooting with one. Craig’s selection of shots speak to what he represents. “The photography is me. My imperfect, discontent, confused, happy, vulnerable, evolving self. It’s work that makes me happy and puts me at ease, makes my quality of life better. It helps me see and present the lifestyle I love, like surfing or skating, in a new way.”
It doesn’t get much better than that.