Sometimes it’s hard being a Juggalo. The media hates you. The band you love is, to many, nothing but a laughing stock. And recently, even the FBI classified your kind as a criminal gang.
For four days every year, thousands of Juggalos gather at Hogrock Campgrounds, in Illinois, for a celebration of the things they hold dear: Insane Clown Posse, drugs, boobs, and more interestingly, a form of pacifism that Camille Dodero famously described in her Village Voice report from the Gathering of 2010.
There’ve been quite a few “Juggalo Journalism” pieces since then–some of them good, some of them sensational. But documentaries, like the fantastic American Juggalo, have done a great job of showing rather than telling. The same allure can be found in the photography of Daniel Cronin, whose book The Gathering of the Juggalos collects portraits shot at the eponymous annual event.
According to Noisey’s Ben Shapiro, Cronin happened upon a group of Juggalos in his native Portland and immediately knew he’d found a solid subject. He attended his first Gathering in 2010, where he met Dodero while she was reporting her piece for the Voice (she’s also written the forward to Cronin’s book). Right away, he knew he wanted to take a unique approach:
I think the first year I was a little overwhelmed with it all, but the second year I was definitely comfortable and knew how to approach it. There were only two times where I got confronted by people telling me to get the fuck out of here, but that’s fair. When I had the camera out on the tripod and was walking around, I wouldn’t go near the open air drug markets, because I don’t want to photograph that anyway. It’d just be more photos of Juggalos using drugs, which are all over, plus there are drugs at every music festival. It’s not unique. I didn’t want to violate that space. I think it’s cool that they don’t allow photography near the drugs. They want people to feel safe with what they are doing …
I completely understand that they’ve been shat on by the media before. To them, I’m just another guy with a camera who’s going to misrepresent them.
The muted hues and razor sharp details of Cronin’s large-format compositions cast his subjects in an almost Romantic light. Juggalo visual culture–purple Faygo, butt cracks, and face paint–fades into the background of his earnest, and often very beautiful, portraiture.
Gathering of the Juggalos, Cronin’s first book, is out now. Order it here.