We’ve seen those – ghostly silhouettes, abandoned buildings, lonely trees in forests, and foggy landscapes. Stare at them for a little longer, and you feel something trickling down your spine. That, my friend, is a chill. A compelling haunting photograph can do that to you. But, how does one go about achieving that “Paranormal Activity-esque” ghostly effects in photos? Surely, post-processing isn’t everything. Here go some tricks that might help you become a pro at clicking photos that terrify. Gear up:
1. Pick a concept.
Unlike many other genres of photography, horror photography requires an extensive concept. What are you shooting for? What is the purpose? What’s the story you wish to convey to your audience? Answers to these questions nudge you in the right direction, and help build the right set up for a photoshoot. Beginner tip: start with loneliness.
2. Use light according to the subject.
Obviously, the same kind of light source doesn’t work on every subject. While horror photography is usually dark and spooky, where you position the light quite simply creates 90% of the impact. For instance, if you’re clicking a portrait of a woman, use a backlit background or place a light source right up her chin. This creates a silhouette-like imagery that leaves the viewer in intrigue. If you don’t have a light source, use a natural one; shoot around dusk as the twilight time is ideal to create a chilling effect.
3. Use props.
No matter how clichéd some items are, there’s a reason they’re used as props in horror photography. Items like candles, chests, lamps, and glow sticks, which although may or may not be integral to the shot, do create a stunningly spooky ambience and add to your shot. You can also use fog to create an even more dramatic visual.
4. Induce surrealism.
Push the boundaries of reality and include a bit of surrealism to your shots. Concepts that toy with defying gravity, blue or green blood, or a woman underwater are some beginner examples that can get you practicing the art of surrealism. For more information on the subject, read our excellent interview with surreal artist Kalliope Amorphous (http://www.fotoflock.com/)
5. Watch as many horror movies as you can.
Well, duh! The thing is, horror movies are, perhaps, the best way to learn about composition, premise, and elements that aid in creating the perfect horror shots. Sound and visuals equally contribute to killer (pun intended) imagery, and so, if you aren’t into horror movies, might we suggest renting some DVDs.
Above all, have fun! Quite often, horror photoshoots turn into a riot but don’t get too carried away. Best of luck!