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Photographers are constantly looking for ways to create stronger images that are unique and compelling. While many photographers are content with a simple photograph of the subject, those who push the boundaries find success in their field. Horror photography is one such niche within fine art photography that has seen tremendous growth over the last few years. Many people may wonder why some photos can be so frightening while others have little impact on the viewer. 

The answer lies in how close the photographer gets to their subject and the specific approach when photographing them. There are many different types of horror photography; each comes with its own set of techniques that make it more effective than any other type. Here we will discuss a number of them, including a range of techniques used by some of the most influential photographers in the genre today.

Horror Photography Techniques: A Basic Overview

Firstly, there is no “right” way to shoot an image if you wish to achieve what some would call intense realism. To create a picture that genuinely inspires fear in viewers, it is sometimes necessary to use techniques against commonly accepted photography practices. This can include using large rather than telephoto lenses and moving exceptionally slowly when taking pictures. These techniques may seem counterproductive at first glance, but they make the photographs more powerful because they force the viewer to focus on the details of the photo.

An excellent place to start would be the basics of shooting horror photography. Most photographers who want to create something truly terrifying will do so in a dimly lit room. The goal is to give the viewer as little information about the subject as possible before the photo is taken. The background should be completely blacked out without any detail visible anywhere. It is also important to keep the lights off when taking the picture and turn the camera’s flash on only when the shutter button is pressed halfway down. This allows for more accurate focusing and ensures a sharper image. You don’t need a tripod for this type of photography since the subject won’t move much, but it is still a good idea to hold the camera very still until the moment the shutter is released.

Once you’ve mastered the basic technique of capturing a shot in dark rooms with minimal light, it’s time to begin experimenting with different settings and angles. This is when you will need to get creative to produce anything horrifying. Using a slow shutter speed can be particularly effective because it allows you to blur motion in your scene. This works well for shots of people running from a monster or other frightening figure. However, it can work just as effectively for static scenes that show a person being chased or attacked. Blurring the action allows the viewer to imagine what might happen next, which can be pretty disturbing. Of course, a lot depends on the situation; some situations aren’t appropriate for blurring, such as a fight between two monsters.

The use of blood and other natural substances can also add to the intensity of an image. Blood is always popular, especially when the victim is suffering. However, be careful not to use too much of it as it can quickly become visually distracting. If you’re going to use blood, stick to a small amount and keep the rest of the scene clean. Also, remember that some people may find the sight of blood upsetting. If you plan on using blood in your shots, try to use it sparingly and avoid adding it directly onto the subject.

Finally, a good horror photo needs to have a sense of depth to it. This helps make the viewer feel as though they could reach out and touch the subject, making it all the more unsettling. Make sure to compose your images so that they are symmetrical, which will help emphasize the illusion of depth even further. Another thing to consider is whether to use a shallow depth of field, which gives the viewer the impression that everything is in focus, or to use a deep depth of field, which creates a sense of distance. Deep depth of field can create an oppressive feeling in the viewer, while the shallow depth of field can create a sense of isolation and loneliness. It’s up to you to decide which effect you want to achieve in each case.

Horror Photography Techniques: Breaking Boundaries

While many photographers may be comfortable sticking to the basics of shooting horror photography, some push the boundaries of what is considered acceptable. They can create images that inspire a strong reaction from viewers and capture their imaginations. One of these photographers is Cory DeAn Cowley, an American author, artist, and poet. She owns C.D.C. Works, which operates out of Delray Beach, FL, and focuses on graphic horror novels and equally ghastly art pieces. 

DeAn claims that the inspiration for the artwork comes from her dream of becoming a landmark personality in the world of horror and finding herself drawn into a world of darkness and despair. Her books ‘Bending Reality’ and ‘Dissention’ explore themes of revenge, guilt, and evil, and they feature a wide variety of characters. Cory’s work is praised in the horror community for being intense, realistic, and hard to stomach since she uses blood and other natural substances such as raw animal parts and insects in her art and photography, which has made it very popular among fans of the genre. 

Photography is one of the few mediums of art that is relatively easy to experiment with. A few rules and requirements must be followed, which makes it a perfect avenue for experimentation. No matter how bizarre or unconventional your ideas may be, you can almost certainly come up with a way to incorporate them into a photograph. As long as you’re willing to put in the effort, you’ll be able to produce photos that are both terrifying and unique. The more unusual your techniques and methods, the more likely your creations will stand out from the crowd.

The following tips are intended for those who desire to take their images to the next level. Even if you’re not interested in becoming a professional photographer, they can still provide valuable insights into the process of creating stunning photographs.


Before taking pictures, it’s essential to understand the concepts behind exposure and composition. Exposure refers to the amount of light that reaches the camera sensor, while composition involves arranging elements within an image to complement one another. You will eventually learn how to adjust both of these factors to suit your artistic vision with practice. Composition is important because it dictates the overall mood of an image. For example, a person standing alone in a dark room could be described as lonely, whereas a picture of a woman sitting on the edge of a bed surrounded by rose petals would suggest eroticism. The concept is simple, but the execution requires a lot of skill. An amateur photographer should spend some time studying the work of established artists until they fully understand this principle.


Lighting is also crucial. While it’s possible to take good photographs without access to high-quality equipment, it becomes more complicated once you start working with low-light conditions. Because you can control the lighting in a studio environment, you will generally require fewer props and backdrops to achieve a similar result. If you’re planning on taking photos outdoors, you should first research the various types of lighting available before you leave home.

Special Effects

One of the most exciting trends in recent years is special effects in horror photography. While some photographers prefer to create these scenes themselves, others have turned to digital editing software instead. Digital editing allows you to modify the appearance of your subjects to match the style you’re trying to achieve. This includes fake blood, body parts, and other objects. If you’re looking for something that looks old and decrepit, you can digitally enhance the texture of your subjects’ skin and clothes. Alternatively, if you want to create an illusion of depth, you can use 3D tools to apply depth-of-field effects.

Final Words

If you’re new to horror photography, there’s no need to worry. It takes time and patience to get good at it like any creative endeavour. You will inevitably make mistakes along the way. Still, if you continue practicing and learning from your experiences, you should eventually find yourself producing work that stands out from the rest.