Some children dream of running away and joining the circus, Norma I. Quintana dreamed of photographing it.
In 1999, Circus Chimera, a one-ring operation, came to Napa, California, where Quintana lives.* Initially, she thought she’d only photograph the Oklahoma-based group for a few days. But after becoming “totally seduced by the circus world,” she devoted nearly a decade of her life to it.
The result is a body of work that photographer Sally Mann has compared to Diane Arbus, Bruce Davidson, and Mary Ellen Mark. It is now collected in the book Circus: A Traveling Life (Damiani). Quintana was able to achieve a remarkable intimacy with her subjects.