Getting an emotional response in an image that doesn’t look faked is a photographer’s nirvana. A “Haunted House” attraction in Canada published images taken of visitors’ reaction to walking round the house. The images proved so popular, the company’s website crashed
Nightmares Fear Factory in Niagara Falls revealed the power of certain kinds of photography, when the photos of visitors to their Haunted House attraction went viral, going round the web and appearing on ABC News (New York, San Francisco) and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
The photos are disarmingly honest, but what’s fascinating is the sheer pleasure people around the world have taken in these pictures of terrified people. Is it a sadistic pleasure at someone else’s pain? We’d suggest it’s the opposite. It’s a kind of empathy, a kind of second-hand pleasure of ‘fright’, where we can imagine the fear without actually having to experience it. And the framing of the imagery is also compelling, each photo shot from a similar angle and in a similar place. It has the format of an art project without all the baggage. A study, a typology of fear.
This kind of imagery is remarkably powerful, seeing extreme emotions in safe, secure environments. The reaction t0 this kind of photography is sure to be noted by advertisers. Fear is the key.