Artist Jason Shaltz explores the everyday lives of some of horror's biggest icons in his latest personal project, “Everyday Horrors.” Most of us know who Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers are, but outside of their gruesome yet successfully franchised acts, what do we really know about them? Well, like any good horror fan, Jason sat down and tried to capture what it might look like if they lived among us, had errands to run, or just enjoyed a nice day off.
As a lifelong horror movie fan myself, I too have played with mixing my passion for horror with my photography. These characters have become larger-than-life cultural icons; they reach far beyond the movie screens that introduced them into our collective consciousness. We all know who they are, and we all know their stories, but there is so much more for someone to creatively explore.
That's where personal projects fit in. It doesn't matter if you are exploring the life of a fictional serial killer or documenting a cultural group in your area. Personal projects are an opportunity for us to explore our passions and find a creative outlet for the ideas others might not see the value in at first. These projects can often help us find new inspiration in our work or take our careers down a different path. They sometimes lead to dream jobs or inspire clients to try new things. If nothing else, success or failure, they allow us to explore ourselves without compromise. That's what Jason set out to do:
I wanted to shoot my favorite 'celebrities' in any setting of my choosing without having to worry about logistics, schedules, permits, creative compromising, budget, etc.
The concept started out simply: there would be 5 characters with 6 photos of each for a total of 30 images shot entirely over the course of October. He conceptualized some of the shots in advance, such as Michael Myers in the Apple Store and Leatherface on the subway. However, while shooting, he discovered those perfect moments of everyday life that just couldn't be planned.
The images were released one each day throughout the month and turned into a great opportunity to connect with like-minded people on social media who shared his passions. The photos became so popular that they led to Jason creating "Everyday Horrors Volume 2" this past October. He was able to explore more characters and embrace the overwhelming response from people as he posted each new image online.
As our careers take off and we find ourselves working more, it's easy to lose some of that passion we had when we first started. Sometimes, we work each day, waiting for that great job we can get creative with or really put ourselves into. That's when you have to create it for yourself. Jason realized this while reminiscing about a past project where he followed a band around the country for two months, documenting their scene. It was something he was passionate about and had to work hard to fund, but it was also an assignment he often looked back on as one of his greatest experiences. That's when he started “Everyday Horrors” to recapture those feelings and experience.
There was no rule book. No client. No money. No stakes. No borders. I needed another experience like that, so I made it for myself rather than sitting around and waiting for someone to ask me to do it... I wanted to make a series that I was proud of and that would assist in defining me and my brand.
Like any fun and humorous project, lots of the images have interesting stories behind them. For example, while out shooting, they came across the hot dog stand. “For a reason I will never know, no one was standing at that cart,” Jason notes. The model went and stood behind the cart, and Jason started shooting. “People just started ordering from him, almost like they didn't notice or care he had a mask on.”
That seems to be a recurring theme throughout the project. Maybe it’s New York City or that our attention is buried deep in our media devices, but a lot of Jason's stories and images show people really not noticing or caring that these movie villains are there.
Personal projects don't have to have a goal or change the world. In the end, the results might not even matter. What's most important is what it means to you and what you get out of it personally. Like Jason, I’m a big believer that when you put yourself into your work and you're passionate about what you are doing, it shows in the results. Ultimately people and your clients will see this. That's what it takes to discover who you are as a photographer and what your individual brand is.
What are you passionate about? What ideas do you have for a personal project? Post them in the comments, and tell us what you're working on.
All images used with permission of Jason Shaltz.