Omnivore - James Camp, 'CL' contributing photographer, has died
A memorial service will be held Sun., July 27
- James Camp RIP (1978-2014)
James Camp, longtime Creative Loafing contributing photographer and Atlanta freelance photographer at large, has died. According to his family, he took his own life early Wednesday morning. He was 36-years-old. The Lithia Springs, Ga., native, who mainly focused on food photography but frequently took on music assignments, first began freelancing for CL in 2004. Over the next decade, his work became a centerpiece of CL's food and drink coverage.
His girlfriend, Theresa Couvillion, died the following day. CL has yet to confirm the cause of death. A joint memorial service for Camp and Couvillion will be held tomorrow at 3 p.m. at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens (1345 Piedmont Ave.). In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the James Camp Photography Scholarship Fund at the Art Institute of Atlanta.
Along with some of his most memorable photography, Camp is remembered by his friends and colleagues, whose recollections are included below:
- James Camp photos
- Seven Lamps
James was a talented photographer and genuine person. One of the busiest yet most laid back people I've ever met. Trying to select just one of his photos for a feature was always a difficult decision because he could provide so many beautiful options. Often, the solution ended up being to run more photos. Over the years, certain Creative Loafing layouts such as $20 Dinners were expanded and redesigned specifically to highlight as much of James' wonderful work as possible. Everyone enjoyed working with him. He is deeply missed. - Debbie Michaud, CL Editor-in-Chief
- One Eared Stag
James began photographing for Creative Loafing a decade ago when I was the paper's food editor. From his first assignment I knew we'd found the right collaborator for the breadth of our reporting on restaurants and dining. James had a versatile talent, a sure eye, and a wealth of patience for juggling deadlines. As chefs saw their food so beautifully rendered in James' work for CL, they sometimes hired him separately to shoot the restaurant's photography. He was part of the fabric that wove Atlanta's food community together. We will miss him sorely. - Bill Addison, Eater Restaurant Editor, CL food editor 2002-2006
- Beer enthusiast Phil Farrell
James was such an integral part of how I learned to be a food journalist. For six years he made my articles at Creative Loafing beautiful, and helped me to understand how to put together a food section. Whenever we redesigned the section or put together a food issue, the main objective was to highlight James' gorgeous photographs because they were such a gift to us. He cared so deeply about his work, and my work, and the paper. He was also an incredibly sweet, loyal friend who offered a huge amount of support to me around the time I left Atlanta. I'm just heartbroken he's gone. - Besha Rodell, LA Weekly Dining Critic, CL food editor 2006-2012
- Big Apple Inn
- Zeb Stevenson
As a chef I meet, work with and become acquainted with so many people in a year's time that, frankly, it can be hard to keep it all straight. I never had that issue with James, though. We made a quick connection.
James and I had a really cool kinship and I always looked forward to working with him. Not only was he truly great at his craft, but he was a true individual; above average in every way.
I was lucky enough to work with James more than any other photographer (by far) and I have a number of memories of him. The most relevant comes from our last shoot together for Creative Loafing's $20 Dinner feature.
I was pretty uncomfortable with the idea of having a photographer in my home and I was nervous about how things would go. But when I looked out of my front window and saw James walking up I can't describe how relieved I felt. It was less like having a photo shoot and more like having an old friend over for lunch. I trusted him to do what he did best and I could relax knowing that I was in good hands. We relaxed and had a great time.
James, you were an exceptional person and I'm proud to have known and worked with you. I'm shocked and sad that you're gone.
It just won't be the same without you, friend. - Zeb Stevenson, Parish executive chef
- Rosa Mexicano
James was a great human, he was a hero of mine - he had a deep soul and talent that was unequaled by anyone, anywhere. I loved him. I will forever miss him. - Joeff Davis, CL photo editor
- Five Napkin Burger
I met James on my first real food assignment. He was waiting in his minivan filled with lights and gear outside of Hector Santiago's house. I remember being somewhat nervous and admiring the way that James was so calm about walking into this chef's house and fixing the lights, moving this, rearranging that. By the end, James was telling little jokes, getting Hector to smile for the camera. He made everything we were doing seem natural and easy, as if photographing food was like attending a little dinner party.
We repeated that assignment almost every month for about a year, the two of us walking into some great chef's house and asking him to cook for us. Everyone was always glad to see James; rarely did I ever meet a chef whose food had not already been photographed by James. He seemed to have photographed all of Atlanta's food and he always did his best to make it look food.
After awhile, I noticed what a picky eater he was, that'd he'd turn down even a taste of some dishes a chef would cook. I'd tease him about that - what kind of food photographer was a picky eater? - and he would tease me for being an unreserved glutton. We got along. At the end of our gigs, we'd stand next to his minivan while he packed up his gear and he always told me which festival he was going to, which bands he would see before we had dinner next. Sometimes we'd toss around names, trying to figure out another chef to visit. Then we would leave, excited about the next time. - Wyatt Williams, CL writer/editor 2008-2012 and 2013-2014
- Hugh Acheson
I am incredibly saddened to hear James has passed away. He was such a gifted photographer who always managed to coax incredible beauty only his camera could capture. My love and thoughts go to his family. - Jennifer Zyman, CL food critic
- Turner Field
It was an honor to have the opportunity to work with James during my short time at Creative Loafing. He was so good, that I often felt conflicted running a picture of this big beautiful dish alongside a not-so-favorable review from Besha Rodell. Whether the food was good or not, James always found a way to light, style and art direct amazing food photography every week. - Chris Mihal, Variety Creative Director, CL creative director 2010-2012
- Atlanta Fish Market
- The Drafting Table
James was invaluable to shaping the way CL covers food both visually and editorially. I worked with him for two and a half years and rarely gave James much direction. He was a pro in the truest sense of the word. He would go into a space, rap with the chef, feel it out on his own. It often felt like he knew what I was looking for before I did.
His ability to churn out visually arresting images week after week was impressive. But in many ways, it paled in comparison to his ability to always make our work feel like play.
Whenever I was with James on a shoot, it would inevitably start out feeling like an awkward professional or social situation - until he got his lights set up and started clicking. He had a disarming charm about him when he was behind the camera. He was the kind of person you could feel comfortable around immediately. Despite his many playful tirades about not being a 'people person,' and an endearing lack of hesitation to tell you what he really thought whenever the situation called for it, James was always warm and engaging. He could talk to anyone, make anything look gorgeous, and he will be sorely missed. - Stephanie Dazey, CL Food Editor
- Endive Publik House
Many of you knew him as James, but growing up I knew him as Robbie. Or, to be more honest, I knew him by the nickname Poddu. A credit to his good nature and my complete lack of understanding of the Cyrillic alphabet, it was the name he picked for Russian class in high school. I saw it written, called him that, and it stuck between the two of us.
Time and distance have a way of changing friendships. Athens is not very far away, but it is on another planet. It's easy to forget about the rest of the world. Rob visited often when we were in college, but as his photo career took off and I became a cook we had less and less time. Some friendships never really die, though. Rob was my closest friend in high school and college. I honestly spent more time at his parents' house than I did my own. That kind of friendship is lifelong. When we did see one another, it was as if no time had passed. We were excited to share what we had been working on. I am so proud of the work Rob did. He was truly gifted but possessed a humility that made him so easy to be around. As I write this I cannot believe I will never get the chance to catch up with my friend again.
I want to share one story from high school that shows the man Rob was. Backstory is Rob had tattoos, hair down to the middle of his back and zero gauge piercings. I had whatever color of hair I had that month, a chip on my shoulder, and a mouth. That last part has not changed. So, not exactly normal Douglasville, Ga., in 1995. We were at a Waffle House at 3 a.m. (completely reasonable!) and the lady working was not too shy letting us know we were not welcome. She did this by "accidentally" dropping our sweet teas in our laps. I, of course, let her know immediately where she could go and what she could do on the way. Rob just stood up, smiled, put a hand on my shoulder and said "Let's go." He even waved and said thanks as we left. That was Robbie Camp. Zen-like in his patience, always smiling. He was one of the kindest people I have ever met. The world is less for his passing. Love you, Poddu. - Edward Russell, chef
Note: This post has been updated since its original posting to include the the reflections of Camp's childhood friend, Edward Russell.