Anthony “Thosh” Collins started shooting photography as a teenager growing up in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community east of Phoenix before dancing his way onto the big screen then returning to work with a camera.
“I want my photography to always have a message about something,” Collins said in a phone interview from Los Angeles where he now lives. The same goes for Native people in a positive light to counter bad stereotypes, he added.
The 27-year-old has Osage, Pima and Seneca-Cayuga tribal heritage and has scored shooting gigs with celebrities and Native American organizations and causes. His nickname, “Thosh” comes from the Pima word for “day” or “sun.”
Collins’s work has been published in magazines such as Life&Style, US Weekly, the Santa Fean magazine and New Mexico Magazine. He has also shot images for Native-affiliated organizations.
Indigenous celebrities who have had their pictures shot by Collins are film and TV actor Adam Beach and Alex Meraz who appeared in this year’s film, “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.” Collins, himself, also appeared before the camera lens as an extra in the 2005 film “The New World” which focused on the clash of Natives and white settlers in the 17th century.
Collins shot a spread of Meraz photos which will appear in the fall edition of the National Museum of the American Indian’s magazine. His work also appears in galleries and their Web sites including that of King Galleries in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Collins started shooting photos as a teenager and studied photography at the San Francisco Art Institute in the early 2000s before moving to Los Angeles. He is also a dancer and performed contemporary Native and hip-hop dances with a street dance company before focusing on photography full-time.
Shooting gigs for Native-affiliated projects also keep Collins busy. He shot promotional photos of Beach, who is First Nations Canadian, when Beach hosted the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards Foundation in Canada last year.
He believes working with Native organizations helps “to create a positive image of Indian people,” which is demonstrated in his workshops targeting younger people interested in picking up a camera too.
Collins has conducted photography workshops with children during the NVision media training events for children and came to the Pawhuska event earlier this year. “We’ll go out and shoot images and do a slideshow,” he said of his classes.
“I give them a theme like ‘respecting elders and peers,’” and the students go out with their cameras and shoot images with those words in mind, he said.
Collins is enrolled with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community where his father is from. His mother is Osage and his grandfather is Andrew Turley and his great-grandparents were Brian and Mary Turley.