Interview with Joshua Hoffine

Joshua Hoffine is a Kansas-born photographer who specialises in the psychology of fear. After working for Hallmark Cards and running a wedding photography business he set out to carve his niche within the annals of horror photography. His photographs are some of the most striking images we’ve seen lately, displaying a depth of imagination, and visual eye to rival the likes of Sam Raimi or George A. Romero.

Artists such as Travis Louie, Kris Kuksi and HR Giger are fascinated with the macabre. Yet horror is such a unique niche within photography. What made you decide to pursue this field?

I was a working as a professional photographer, but harboured a secret desire to create a horror movie. Somehow the two interests fused and I began making horror photographs. The first images were about childhood fears. I made them with my own children.  I believe that photography lends itself very well to the horror genre. In horror, the more believable and convincing the image, the more affecting it is to the viewer. Photography is inherently more believable a medium than painting – it is defined by its literality.

Your friend (Bob Barber) is really creepy looking. Did this come to mind when you decided to cast him for your photo shoots?

Absolutely. Bob has such a striking face! In person, he’s strangely beautiful. But with some make-up and sinister lighting, it’s easy to transform his cheekbones and thin frame into something frightening and monstrous. Bob loves doing it. I’m definitely going to continue using him for future projects.

Could you describe the process of constructing the imagery for some of your pictures? For example in Bed, how did you construct the monsters hands?

I use different kinds of props and make-up effects, depending on the image. I used mannequins in Hands, Bedside, and Couch. I used taxidermy in Wolf and Phobia. The giant hands in Bed were from a ‘Creature Reacher’ costume I bought for half price the day after Halloween.

Your photographs are very cinematic in their imagery. Are there any particular horror movies that you love, or draw your inspiration from?

I feel inspired by the entire genre. Some films, like Evil Dead 2 or The Company of Wolves, are particularly inspirational.

Your photographs are very vivid, but you have used Photoshop on several occasions. What is the benefit/cost of digitally enhancing your work, even where you have used lighting, props and make up in your mis-en-scene?

My ultimate goal is to present the image as I see it in my mind. I place a great emphasis on practical effects and straight photography. I enjoy the process of staging my scenes. Sometimes a practical effect doesn’t work out – or I won’t be able to afford a certain effect – and shooting detail elements separately becomes the best answer. Nine times out of ten, a practical effect is best, but I don’t want a strict adherence to a ‘No Photoshop’ rule to compromise an image.

Is there an underlying narrative behind your pictures?

I try to remain sensitive to the potential subtext of an image. In Wolf for instance, the wolf is a stand-in for a sexual predator. I emphasize this by giving the wolf a man’s hand as he reaches toward a partially undressed girl. Or in the photograph Lady Bathory, she is wearing a green mud mask and cucumbers on her eyes. By emphasizing the ‘spa treatment’ aspect of her murders, the image becomes less about Lady Bathory, and more about the shameless pursuit of youth and beauty.

Visit Joshua Hoffine’s website to see more of his work and buy prints

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