Do you have an image that is more popular with people than any of your others? One that stands out head and shoulders above all your work?
For me, it is my Ablutophobia horror image. In this Photoshop walkthrough, you can see behind the scenes of what went into the editing side of this image.
Ablutophobia (the fear of bath time) is the image which I created with the help of my son (yes that is my son screaming in fear) amassed over 8k likes on one post on social media. It won me the 2017 Fear Award in the photography category and is always the image people bring up whilst speaking at conventions. It got me featured on Phlearn's Instagram and landed me one of my biggest jobs to date.
The image was born out of the idea of childhood fears. I reflected, and one memory that sticks out was bath time. I hated bath time. Not only did I hate it like every other child, but I also used to think that something would grab me from under the bubble bath and pull me under. Although that wouldn't be half as traumatic as the time my little brother pooped in the bath whilst I was in it. But let us not get into that. The scars are still raw.
Once I had the idea of the bath time, everything else fell into place. I knew I wanted some kind witch woman rising out of the bath behind a child. And as I sketched out the idea on to paper it felt like something was missing. I wanted to play with reality, to add something a little off-kilter. It wasn't until I got so frustrated that I just scribbled with my pen over that bottom of the image, that the idea revealed itself. My scribble looked like waves outside of the bath. JACKPOT! I knew what had to be done.
So what is it about this image that makes it so loved? Like anything in this world nothing is certain but here are my thoughts.
One: My son. I got to say he nailed the fear in the eyes. This was the last shot his patience was wearing thin. But in one last-ditch fatherly attempt at motivation, I offered him a bag of sweets if he gave the last photo everything he had. And boy did he!
Two: The image is relatable for two reasons. Everyone was a child at some point in their life. And pretty much most children hate bath time. The image stirs up childhood nostalgia. Not only that but I feel the image also connects with parents. Every parent knows the war that happens when it comes to bath time, and the fear of something happening to their child in the bath. The thought of a child in danger gets emotions going. Why do you think most 80s films are still so popular. Goonies anyone?
Three: The cartoonish feel. Most Horror photography is dark, grungy and low key. When I thought out my outline early on, I wanted this image to be bright, clean and even a little commercial looking aesthetic wise.
Maybe I'm wrong, I would like to hear your thoughts. Most of the time we never know why one image hits and others bomb. But I guess that is part of the magic of being a creative.