Art

Swedish Horror Story with Andreas Gradin

Horror sessions are actually one of the most enjoyable photo shoots a photographer could ever undertake.

Interview by Teo J. Babini - teo@citizenbrooklyn.com Photos by Andreas Gradin

Citizen Brooklyn: As I understand, horror photography is a passion of yours, but not your main focus. Tell us about your career as a photographer.
Like most photographers, I started out shooting everything I could imagine. I brought the camera everywhere and tried everything—Landscapes, macro, sports and music photography. It was, however, when I started to photograph people, that I started to make progress and find my own style of photography. I got into fashion photography and worked with a lot of models and make-up artists, trying out most genres and styles.
Today I am mainly a portrait photographer. Weddings, children and corporate shoots are what I mostly do to pay the rent, but that’s not really what boosts my creativity. Every once in a while I get creative urges and gather a group of inspired people to do some wicked sessions. It could be really colorful makeup, sci-fi/fantasy or gory horror sessions.

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

CBK: How often and for what purpose do you do horror shoots?
I usually do a horror session every other month. I do it for my own satisfaction, not for money. Even though I license some of my work as stock photos, they don’t really make any money worth mentioning. If I only worked for money, I would do corporate sessions instead. The reasons I do horror sessions is that it is so much fun. Horror sessions are actually one of the most enjoyable photo shoots a photographer could ever undertake. You get to work with super-talented make-up artists and models, and contrary to what people may think, these sessions tend to be relaxed and fun, we always do have a good laugh while we are shooting. It is hard to be serious when you have fake blood all over the place. If you shoot on location, passers-by always stop to see what’s going on. Horror creates emotions. Some people get scared and some don’t, but you will always get their attention regardless.

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

CBK: How is a horror set-up different from other shoots?
For me who works a lot with fashion photography and is used to make people look as good as possible, it is a completely different thing. Instead of working with soft light to smooth out skin textures, I work a lot with hard light and harsh shadows in horror sessions. It is also a lot messier. It can be a real drag to clean up the studio after a horror shoot. We usually make fake blood with syrup and color and it gets really sticky on floors and things.

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

CBK: Are there models that specifically do horror shoots? How are they different from regular models?
I usually use the same models that I use for fashion photography, but I also use more non-traditional models. What I want is theatrical skills. I don’t need people who are concerned with their looks in these kinds of shots. I need people who can act. Who are willing to look their worst and are connected with their primal instincts such as anger and fear.

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

CBK: Are most of the effects created on set, or do you have to do a lot of work in post-production?
I usually try to do most things on set. I think it was Zack Arias who said “if you’re saying in your head ‘oh I’ll just fix that later in Photoshop’ stop what you’re doing and slap yourself as hard as you can.” That is so true. Talented make-up artists can do so much cool stuff with makeup, so I try to do most things right from the start. The post process is mostly techniques to enhance the raw feeling in the image, a lot of local contrast adjustments and things to make the image pop and make it grittier.

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

CBK: Are these images mostly done in a studio or on location?
Most images are done in the studio, mostly because of the climate here in Sweden. We don’t have a long summer unfortunately. You get a lot more control over the lighting in the studio also, but I prefer to work on location when I can. We once rented an old thousand square foot sanatorium hospital that had been closed for many years. That environment was awesome to shoot horror in. I am not easy to scare, but walking around in the old hospital corridors in the middle of the night was a bit scary.

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

CBK: I love the “Day of the Dead” image, can you tell us a bit about that particular shoot?
I was inspired by all the day of the dead images that have been all over the Internet lately. I wanted to do my own twist on it, so I thought I would do a winter version of the popular theme. I bought a second hand wedding dress online and also some Christmas decorations with fake snow. The model, who is also a great makeup artist did her own makeup and the result turned out really good. We were thinking about doing an outdoor session in the snow, but it was to cold and dark at that time. We might do a follow up though.

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

CBK: What’s your favorite scary movie?
The original ”Shining” is hard to beat, but in recent years I really enjoyed ”the Descent”.

CBK: Do you celebrate Halloween? If so, how?
Not really. Halloween isn’t really a big thing in Sweden, even though it has gotten bigger the last few years. It is an American thing, really. I celebrate Halloween all year long in my photo studio instead. 🙂

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

Photo © Andreas Gradin

2 Responses to “Swedish Horror Story with Andreas Gradin”

  1. […] Jag har för övrigt fått göra lite intervjuer om min “horror art” på senaste tiden. Här är en som Citizen Brooklyn i New York gjorde förra veckan. http://www.citizenbrooklyn.com/topics/art/swedish-horror-story-with-andreas-gradin/ […]

  2. Myron says:

    Incredible images. I found the interview so very interesting. It was fun .. just in reading it.