Joshua Hoffine is one of the most recognized photographers in the genre of horror photography. His work has been featured in the Horror publications Rue Morgue, Fangoria, Horror Hound, Scream UK, Virus, and Famous Monsters of Filmland. His commercial clients include Sony, Universal Studios, AMC Theaters, and The National Opera of Paris. We catch up with Joshua and find out more about this unique sub genre of photography.
I am Joshua Hoffine the Horror Photographer. My role as a Horror photographer is to show you what you don’t want to see. I stage my photo-shoots like small movies, with sets, costumes, elaborate props, fog machines, and SPFX make-up. Everything is acted out live in front of the camera. I believe that the Horror story is ultimately concerned with the imminence and randomness of death, and the implication that there is no certainty to existence. The experience of Horror resides in this confrontation with uncertainty. It tells us that our belief in security is delusional, and that the monsters are all around us.
What got you into horror photography?
As a young photographer I worked at Hallmark Cards creating images meant to evoke warm, happy feelings. Growing up, I always loved Horror movies and all things scary. One day I asked a friend at Hallmark Cards why there was no such thing as "Horror Photography"? There are Horror movies and TV shows, novels, comic books, and video games - I pointed out - but nobody is doing anything with it in photography. Within a year of that conversation, I had left Hallmark and started making photographs deliberately designed to be frightening. This was in 2003. Five years later, in 2008, I released my first collection of Horror photographs online. The work went viral, and a new sub-genre of Photography was born.
What's in your Camera Bag, Film, Digital or both?
I stage my photo-shoots like small movies using practical effects, but I shoot everything digitally. I've owned a series of Canon cameras over the years. I shoot everything on a F2.8 24-70mm lens. I like to use hot lights for small set-ups, but combine hot lights with small flashes for bigger scenes. I use a fog machine every chance I get.
What’s your most memorable photo?
All of my Horror photographs have a special place in my heart. An exciting turning point happened in 2014 when I created a zombie scene called LAST STAND. I ran a successful Kickstarter campaign and had, for the first time, a real budget to work with. More importantly, this project marked the first time I worked with J. Anthony Kosar - a professional SPFX make-up artist. We continued to collaborate on projects after that. He just did the SPFX make-up on the new CANDYMAN movie, and was nominated for an Emmy this year for his work on the TV show LOVECRAFT COUNTRY.
What does your next photography adventure look like?
I'm currently working on a photo called SABBATH, which features a ring of witches summoning Satan.
How has photography evolved since you’ve started shooting?
I learned photography in the pre-digital age, shooting medium format film on a Hasselblad and working in a dark room to create prints. Back then, photography was an esoteric art. Now everyone has a camera (phone) in their pocket. Photography is not respected the way it once was. People are struck by my subject matter; I'm rarely asked about my craft.
Where will we find you when you’re not taking photos?
I read a lot, and I watch at least one movie every day (usually a Horror movie). Invariably, everything leads back to my photography.
What advice have you got for the younger you, just starting out on your photography adventures?
You never finish learning. Problem solving is everything. Do not become complacent. Every project is a chance to push yourself and try something new.
Thanks to Joshua for his generous time and input into creating this article.
Joshua's images are reproduced with permission. View more of Joshua's amazing work on his website and instagram account.