Editorial: Saying thanks for Trent’s cherished photos

In a personal commentary about a tough medical period he has endured over the past six months, the Addison Independent’s beloved photographer Trent Campbell offers a humble observation about how to adjust one’s priorities and get a new outlook on life. “I recommend having a stroke,” he writes. “I had one, and it did wonders altering my perspective.”
He backs off that wry sense of humor in the next sentence, recalling that he had two strokes in the past six months and suggests “avoiding a stroke any way you can.”
The first statement is the ever-present optimism that Trent has shown all of his colleagues at the Addison Independent for the past 20 years, as well as the thousands of people throughout Addison County with whom he has photographed and had the pleasure of interacting. The second statement reflects the reality of serious illness, and what you learn about what’s truly important in life.
Trent has always been a soulful storyteller, though mainly through his photos. You could see it in his work for all these years not just because he has a “photographers eye,” but because he empathizes with others. He sees his subject’s pain or joy, determination and grit, athletic prowess or dramatic flair and illustrates that in the photos he takes.
Like all great photographers (and we’re lucky to have Steve James filling in until Trent’s return), Trent doesn’t “snap” a profile shot for a feature story, but rather captures the essence of a person; he shows the physical exertion and drama in sports that stories alone can’t convey; and he has preserved timeless moments in the county’s history that should never be lost because he knows where to be and when.
The art in photography is in the seeing and giving back, more than in the taking — and Trent has given to the county tens of thousands of moments not to be forgotten.
But right now he’s not able to operate a camera let alone the physical mobility to get about. For much of the past six months since his first stroke in late October, he’s been in and out of the hospital and in rehab, using a walker, then a cane to get around. He tells his personal story in a sidebar to a front-page story written by long-time colleague and lead reporter John Flowers, and he is, as expected, unflinchingly honest, touching, optimistic and grateful.
Grateful? Yes, despite six months of a debilitating illness, he’s grateful for all life has given him, for every opportunity to intrude into someone’s personal space for a moment to capture a photo, for being accepted as an integral part of the Addison County community, for his family and friends, and for all those who have helped him and his wife, Nikki, throughout their current ordeal.
That’s understanding life’s priorities and gaining perspective.
Perhaps you know Trent personally, or maybe have only seen him at community events taking pictures at a parade, sporting event, graduation, a high school musical or community play, a news event or, perhaps, at Addison County Field Days. He’s been there and he’s hoping to be there again.
But as he says in his story, and as John Flowers reports, he’s got a long recovery ahead. There’s a Gofundme campaign in his name. If he’s ever taken a photo of you or a member of your family, or perhaps covered a school play or community event, a group or team shot, or something else that you’ve long cherished, this is a good time to say thanks.
Angelo Lynn

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