Once upon a dark and stormy night, the chills ran up my spine as I clicked the mouse, seconds seemed more like minutes while I nervously awaited for the page to load. Ok well it wasn't that dramatic, however I'd be lying if I didn't say Horror Photographer Joshua Hoffine's work didn't give me the heebie-jeebies. A VFX friend of mine shared some of this photographer's work on Facebook and I immediately had to find out who this guy behind the scary photos was. I got a hold of Joshua after asking him if I could interview him and his process for Fstoppers. Then I almost peed my pants, being an old school horror film buff I was pretty excited to share some of his work! This guy puts some serious work into his scenes and it's not only something to be truly admired, however also pretty unique in the rat race of photographers now a days.
Joshua draws his settings and scenes from that of childhood nightmares, creating ultra realistic sets from things and ideas we where terrified about as a child. Remember the silly thoughts we created as children, dark shadows in the hallway, the thing under the stairs? Well he's put hard work and sweat into making these visuals that used the live in our subconscious minds, come to life in his images. We all had a monster under the bed right?
Joshua uses friends, family members, and even his own daughters for his scenes and crew. Imagine the Halloween parties this guy must throw! In a blog post on his site there is a step by step guide through one of his most recent images titled "Crone" where he uses his mother as the scary witch, and idea he gathered from a childhood memory where his mother dressed as the witch from the Black Sabbath album cover and when the kids at his school reacted to her awesome costume, they freaked out and she had to leave! Now that's a way to fend off the bullies; a kick-ass rock n roll mom!
I asked Joshua if he ever has any true nervous subjects or if his daughters ever get spooked while on set and if he has a line of subjects waiting to pose and here is what he said.
Nobody is ever actually scared, including the children. It's like a giant game of dress up. Everybody has fun. I usually cast friends and family members as actors, but I have no trouble finding volunteers.
I'd imagine if I where myself to be a character in one of his spooky scenes, I'd be bouncing off the walls in anticipation of getting into character. However I'm also one of those annoying Halloween geeks! I mean who doesn't like to dress up and scare the crap out of people?
Also wanted to know what he puts into each photo, think of the elements to that go into each one of these passion pieces. I asked Joshua if there is a set budget or how he goes about handling the production costs of each set up and here is what he said.
Photo shoots can take weeks to prepare for. Budgets vary widely, depending on set and SPFX requirements. $1000 is a common budget zone. Larger projects have been financed through successful Kickstarter campaigns.
For each scene I'd imagine weeks would be minimal to consume all that would entail these mini movie sets. Production design, makeup, costumes, lighting, and crew are all crucial in creating the right look. When I asked what his entire production timeline per shot Joshua says:
One to two months to raise the money (if needed), and two to four weeks for pre-production - which includes finding or building the set, costumes, props, and SPFX. Shoots last for hours, with most of the time spent on make-up and lighting. It usually takes me a couple of days to go through my footage. Many shots do not require much post-production work, but if there are multiple elements to comp together in Photoshop, that can take days as well.
Being featured in numerous publications, Joshua's unique niche of Horror Photography has landed him in some pretty notable features. To view more of his work head to his official website at joshuahoffine.com; he also has a Facebook fan page.
Images used with permission from photographer Joshua Hoffine.
I was always inspired by dark horror story, but Joshua work bring me to the next level in staged portrait.