Inside the Nightmare: The Delightfully Twisted Imagery of Joshua Hoffine

Inside the Nightmare: The Delightfully Twisted Imagery of Joshua Hoffine

Chilling to the bone, Joshua Hoffine's children horror series is one that will keep haunting you even with the lights on. He uses his own daughters as the terrified dreamers in the images, and the results have definitely caught the attention of many people, going viral recently. We get to know the man behind the maniacal machinations and how he captures these childhood fears.


Hailing from Kansas City Joshua got his start at Hallmark Cards and found himself shooting weddings, advertising and CD artwork before finally finding his horror project back in 2003. The project while incredibly creative is unsettling to say the least. Personally I find it to remind me of the older Tim Burton style of horror, colorful and eye catching. When asked about his inspiration to shoot the series Joshua had this to say:

"They evolved out of an interest in Jungian psychology and the iconography of fairy tales. I was reading fairy tales to my daughters at night, and wanted to create a series of photographs based on fairy tale imagery. While I was working on this project I came to realize that many of the classic fairy tale archetypes - like the witch, the ogre, the monstrous wolf - also existed in modern Horror films.

This change of perspective - that Horror films are like modern fairy tales - caused my work to move in a new direction. I decided to try and utilize these archetypes to create photographs that would tap into universal fears via the personal unconscious. I wanted to find the monsters and memories that frightened you as a child, drag them out into the light of day, and take pictures of them. "


As mentioned above Joshua usually uses his own daughters in the images. For the most part the internet has been kind and have most have reacted positively to the series. Reminiscent of Dave Engledow's World's Greatest Father series, work with his own daughter, but with a darker tone. The subject matter though might lead people to assume that Joshua's daughters might be a smidgen afraid while shooting. Joshua says that isn't the case and in fact they love posing for the camera.

"They loved doing it. They were never really scared. I'm their Dad - they felt safe with me. They had fun knowing they were part of a scary picture. They were always aware of the artifice of it all, and would get excited about the idea of scaring the audience. The darker metaphors involved, the fine-art ambition of the project, went beyond their ability to grasp at that age.

Other family members would play the monsters. For instance, grandma is hiding behind the sheet in my clown photograph BALLOONS. For them it was like a big game of dress-up."


When shooting these types of images Joshua tries to stay as in camera as possible. Only shooting composites when it's absolutely necessary.

"I place emphasis on shooting everything live in front of the camera, with props, fog machines, and special effects make-up. I only composite in separate elements when there is no other way to achieve an effect I'm trying to achieve."


When asked if he had any advice to give budding new photographers who wanted to start a series of their own he offered this:

"Learn to inspire people. You can never have too much volunteer help."




You can find more on his horror series by visiting his website and Facebook page. Just a small note there's an awesome audio interview with Joshua on the main page of his website. Click on his site and wait a minute for the interview to start.

Joshua Hoffine Website
Joshua Hoffine Facebook Fan Page

Photographs used with permission.

Rebecca Britt's picture

Rebecca Britt is a South Texas based commercial, architectural and concert photographer. When she's not working Rebecca enjoys spending time with her two daughters, playing Diablo III, and shooting concerts (Electronic Dance Music). Rebecca also runs the largest collective of EDM (electronic dance music) photographers on social media.

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these are just incredible!!

hahaha he touches on almost every childhood nightmare! That IT clown was the worst! Hate that guy! =)

Very cool work. Not sure delightful would be the word I'd choose though.


Who needs sleep anyway... O.o.

The monsters hands under the bed and the monster under the stairs.... goose bumps...

I SO remember going downstairs to get a beer for my dad, or some such thing, then running up the stairs two at a time to get away from the monsters in the basement! Sigh, those were the days...childhood terrors in the heartland! Those were the days!