“In the shoots that followed, it was very clear that he’s someone who really values just being intentional in every degree,” Thompson said. “We talk a lot about what we’re trying to accomplish [and] what we want our viewers to feel and experience and even in that first shoot, he was extremely encouraging. His intention is always just to bring you out in the best light and to just showcase people in a very beautiful and simple way.” (Photo courtesy of Caleb Griffin) Griffin’s self-portrait, “Consuming Fire,” will be exhibited in his upcoming solo show for the Handtmann Prize for Photography. “As he’s grown as an artist, and as I’ve been able to see more of his work, I’ve been able to see him telling his own stories,” Kelly said. “It’s so powerful to hear him stand confidently and tell his own story … I get so proud of him. Because we both started very far from where we are now but it’s a very emotional experience to watch.” Throughout his portfolio, many of Griffin’s main subjects are performers. He has been mesmerized by performance ever since childhood. The son of a pastor, Griffin watched his father perform for a congregation every Sunday. But being a pastor’s son came with challenges. As a gay man, Griffin found it difficult to navigate the world he saw his father immerse himself in; wanting to escape from the societal pressures on his sexuality felt like a performance in its own right. Griffin used his photography collection “Praise Break” as a vessel to explore this tension. Griffin is inspired by an array of artists, including photographers Deanna Lawson and Richard Avedon, as well as painters like Hindy Wiley. The book “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon not only taught him how to draw ideas from artists such as these without plagiarizing but also how to analyze the world around him to develop original ideas. Griffin seeks to bring out his subjects’ emotions in their entirety. “We spent about two hours every day in our area of interest, and mine happened to be photography from my freshman year to my senior year,” said Griffin, who majored in art with a concentration in photography. “So from me already having a love for art and fashion, it grew into photography. [I] was drawn to it because I could include so many things I liked within one medium.” “[‘Praise Break’] was more about me trying to figure out how to engage with specific materials or specific attributes of the Black church,” Griffin said. “It definitely has let me hone in on what it feels like to be consumed by religion.” “Every Sunday made me realize why I like photographing people like in the liminal space so much of being consumed by their performance or their activity where they don’t rely on the audience at all,” Griffin said. “It’s just about them. It’s just about committing to that performance.” (Photo courtesy of Caleb Griffin) Whether creating self-portraits or photographing family, friends or performers, alumnus Caleb Griffin focuses on bringing out the emotional palette of each of his subjects. “My process is informed by ideas and emotions and how best to pack those emotions within a photo, whether that’s manipulating the pictures in some Photoshop way,” Griffin said. “Because I feel like a lot of my work teeters the line between graphic design and documentary photography, which I like. There’s a tension there. So I want that to be a part of it.” In high school, Griffin knew he wanted to pursue a career in the arts. When he arrived at USC, Griffin planned on studying graphic design because he felt that it was a viable career for an art major. However, he quickly discovered that graphic design was not his passion and returned to his first love: photography. Kelly met Griffin in an on-campus Bible study club where they quickly became close friends. Now, Griffin serves as the creative director for Kelly’s music, having a say in every decision from the songs on Kelly’s records to the outfits he wears in Instagram posts. Watching Griffin’s growth in this role and as an artist has been extremely rewarding for Kelly. Griffin’s high school photography classes taught him a number of essential skills that have helped shape him into the photographer he is today. Under the guidance of Roski School of Art and Design’s program, based primarily on critical theory, he has continued to hone those skills. With all of his work, Griffin hopes to introduce viewers to perspectives they may have not been exposed to before and address the biases they may not have known they possessed. Some photos from the collection were taken in Griffin’s home state of Alabama, and some were taken at his apartment in Los Angeles and the Roski photography studio. This duality added a dimension to the photographs of craving religion in an unfamiliar place. Caleb Griffin is coming out from behind the camera and into the spotlight. With photography that is rooted in reality but also maintains an otherworldly aspect, Griffin, a 2020 graduate, aims to bring his own truths and the truths of others to light. “My goals as a photographer are to confront the viewer’s inherent biases as well as inform them on different aspects of life that they, for whatever privilege [or] whatever background, have not been exposed to prior,” Griffin said. Thompson and Griffin met a few times through the music scene at USC. They first worked together in early 2019 for a casual shoot. Ever since, the two have worked on numerous other projects, where Thompson has watched Griffin work behind the camera. “It was about me … feeling displaced, longing for a familiar connection because I’m so far away from home,” Griffin said. “‘How am I about to engage with the spiritual realm that I’ve been distant from for the last three years?’” In addition to creating his own photography, Griffin photographs a number of USC musicians. Two that Griffin photographs are USC artists Ayoni Thompson, a rising senior majoring in popular music performance, and Amir Kelly, a USC alumnus who majored in popular music performance. “My original plan was to be a graphic designer because I figured … [it was] the easiest way to get a job while majoring in art,” Griffin said. “[But] I realized in college that I don’t like graphic design that much. So I was like, ‘OK, I’m gonna do this photography thing full speed ahead,’ and the surrounding photography was artistic direction.” “[I now] construct visually what I’m experiencing in my mind,” Griffin said. “Whether that is the composition or the color palette or the materiality that I’m working with … [critical theory] has helped me think critically about what the topic is and how I’m going to build the image around that topic.” Since childhood, Griffin has been drawn toward artistic mediums such as drawing and fashion design. Before coming to USC, Griffin attended the performing and visual arts division of the Booker T. Washington Magnet High School in Montgomery, Ala., where he concentrated on photography and saw his love for the artform bloom.