There are a number of young and talented Native photographers, but none more prominent than Anthony “Thosh” Collins, a Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community member. Collins, 30, is a professional fashion shooter, a chronicler of Native celebrities, and a photojournalist who opens a window on Indian country—and in everything he does, an artist. His work regularly appears on this site, often in The Thing About Skins, for which he is the token photographer in the writers’ collective.
ICTMN caught up with Collins this summer in Scottsdale, Arizona, where his work adorns the walls of a new Marriott Hotel—the first such facility built on tribal lands. In all, 29 photos by Collins, including a mural-sized image of the Pima basket dance, are on display at the hotel on a permanent basis. “I’ve been doing photography since I was 15 and this is definitely one of the higher points in my career,” he said.
What is the focus of your photography?
My Salt River photos are representative of O’odham Jevad or ‘the land on which we live’. These images are designed to provide a deeper insight of what our community looks like and the beauty it has to offer. Visitors to this area may not have the opportunity to venture out and see things for themselves, so my artwork gives them sort of a mini-tour.
What are your favorite photo subjects?
I love to use clouds and the sky as a backdrop, especially when shooting photos of our community. I also enjoy shooting traditional objects and people, when the time is suitable, our people, and traditional objects.
How do you capture the essence of your people and your land?
I always have a general vision of what it is I’m looking for. In my mind, I can see what it is I want to try to capture and when I get in the field, because I have such a passion for my community and where we live, I let passion take control and look to the camera to speak to it. When you’re passionate about the mission, little effort is involved in moving the image into the viewfinder. It just comes to life. The camera is just a tool and once you point it in the direction of something you’re passionate about, things just flow—you just snap away and things turn out the way you see them.