Earlier this week, iHorror did an artist profile on Joshua Hoffine: a horror photography pioneer. I got the opportunity to pick his brain and discuss childhood fears, what lies ahead and his favorite scary movie. If you are interested in learning a little about Joshua Hoffine and his work and background first, check out his artist profile here.
DD: Hi Joshua, thank you for talking with me. We have to know, what got you started in horror photography?
Joshua Hoffine: I grew up watching Horror movies and reading Stephen King. The horror genre is close to my heart.
When I became a photographer, I noticed that there was no “horror photography.” Horror movies, yes- horror novels, comics, TV shows, video games, illustrators, and bands- but where were the horror photographers?
Joel Peter Witkin stands as an important precedent. His photographs are definitely disturbing, but he would probably not embrace the label of horror, nor did he specifically deal with the iconography or tropes of the genre.
I wanted to become, specifically, a “Horror Photographer”.
I embarked on my project in 2003. The country was still gripped in a post 9/11 culture of fear. The psychology of fear struck me as a potentially important subject to explore with my photography.
I had also recently left Hallmark Cards to work full-time from home and spend more time with my young daughters. I was present when they grappled with the same childhood fears I had experienced. This realization- that certain fears are universal- is really what triggered the project. That and the availability of my young daughters as actors.
I loved the narrative photography of Cindy Sherman and Gregory Crewdson, and wanted to take their narrative approach into a more fantastic and frightening direction.
My college degree was in English Literature. As the photography progressed, I began to realize that all horror, all monsters, function as metaphor. I became interested in not just the visuals of horror, but also the underlying meaning and purpose of horror.
DD: Thank goodness you filled that gap in photography. It’s something that all horror fans can attest to, we love art that is both haunting and beautiful. Did any photographers influence your own style of taking pictures?
JH: Not overly so. I avoided looking at the work of other photographers. I paid more attention to film- Terry Gilliam movies, Stanley Kubrick, the genius of Evil Dead 2.
I learned lighting from a commercial photographer named Nick Vedros. I interned with him for 6 months. This was just before the digital revolution. He utilized real sets and practical effects, sometimes on a massive scale, for big advertising clients. I think my own aesthetic organically developed out of the lessons he taught me.
DD: Have you always been a fan of horror?
My mom took me and my sisters to see Poltergeist in the theater when we were little. We spent a year reenacting scenes, with my youngest sister Sarah always getting sucked into the closet.
We watched John Carpenter’s The Thing on HBO as a family. I was 10-years-old and it blew my mind. By middle school, we had a VCR and my parents would let me check out any horror film I wanted, with virtually no restrictions. I had a happy childhood. Horror movies have just always been normal to me.
DD: And here all I reenacted as a child was being Winnifred Sanderson from Hocus Pocus. I think you have me beat. Did “After Dark, My Sweet” reflect any of your own childhood fears?
JH: I relate to all of them. Don’t you?
DD: As a child yes and even to this day. Your “Wolf” picture terrifies me the most, I think. What is your favorite photography series you’ve done?
JH: “After Dark, My Sweet.”. It was the first project, it was with my kids, and it was a genuine voyage of discovery. I’ve since broadened my scope and refined my craft, but that project was thrilling because it was all so uncharted. I had no audience yet. It was all for me. It was pure.
DD: And it seems like your most iconic. Any search on your name pulls up “After Dark, My Sweet” the most. Do you still use family members in your pictures?
JH: Yes, every chance I get. My wife, Jen, was featured in my recent photo “Nosferatu.”
DD: She’s beautiful (that hair!) and that picture was amazing. Very old Hollywood horror. What kind of photography would you do if you didn’t do horror photography?
JH: Portrait photography. I enjoy it tremendously and it plays into my strengths: lighting, putting people at ease, and giving simple clear directions.
I also have several more conceptual projects I’d like to create in the future.
DD: What motivated you to make the short film Black Lullaby (about a young girl who encounters the Boogeyman)?
JH: I wanted to see my images in motion. I had a simple idea for a film that I could shoot in my own home. My daughter, Chloe, was at the perfect age and had genuine ability as an actor. It was another voyage of discovery.
DD: Do you plan to make another?
JH: Oh, yes.
DD: I can’t wait to see it. Congratulations on your book! I see it comes out this year, where can our readers pre-order it?
JH: Thank you! It’s definitely a milestone for me.
People can pre-order a copy on the Dark Regions Press website.
DD: That is a book I must have for my horror collection. What can we look forward to in the future?
JH: Now that my photography project is being published as a book, I am going to make a full-length Horror movie.
Everything has been working towards this moment. I already know what it is. It’s going to be intense, but amazing.
DD: I cannot wait to see what nightmares you make real in a full length movie. I can only image that it will be stunning. Last question…what is your favorite horror movie?
DD: Excellent choice. Thank you so much for talking with me Joshua Hoffine. I look forward to all of the nightmares to come.
Joshua Hoffine also shoots for portraits, weddings and your other photography needs. You can contact him at [email protected] to set up a photoshoot or event. Thank you Joshua so much for speaking to us here at iHorror and I can’t wait to review your full length movie when it comes out.
Check out the monster prom Sony UK commissioned him to create. It’s a damn delight, I tell you.
Featured image courtesy of kickstarter.com