Interview with Anathema Photography
Anathema Photography creates dark and disturbing images unlike any others. These are not just static images that you view and move on. They linger and seep into your psyche. It makes you question not only the photo but the story behind the photo.
As a child Danielle had horrific nightmares. She was always terrified of the dark and what was lurking in the corners, the closet or under her bed. She learned to embrace the unknown and eventually found ways to welcome the twisted images that haunted her dreams. She opened her mind to this new world she had created where the deformed, the bizarre and the unconventional were beautiful, sensual and above all, accepted.
The darkness can be mesmerizing, scary, romantic and humorous. Through her photography she is able to express her passion by capturing the world of horror, humour and erotica through the eye of her camera.
”It is an honor to be able to share my vision, to fascinate, and to provoke.”
– Danielle K L Anathema
Danielle, it is a pleasure to meet you. Where did you grow up and when did you first begin your interest in photography?
I grew up in the beautiful little town of Jasper, Alberta, Canada. I fell in love with photography when I was 12 and my mom gave me her manual film camera to play with.
Was the subject matter and style different in the beginning of your career than it is now?
Yes and no. I was mostly playing around shooting people. My sister was and still is my muse. I shot some horror for fun, but when I first started doing commissioned work I was shooting more boudoir. I didn’t have the confidence yet to go for what I wanted.
Your images can be disturbing. What is the creative process you go through when conceptualizing before a shoot?
I have a book of concepts that I constantly add to. Some are just waiting for the right person, location or funds. Some concepts are much more complex then others and take a great deal of planning. I write everything down and draw a storyboard. I have to have that final image completely visualized in my head.
Where do you draw inspiration from? What are some of your favourite artists, models and photographers?
Nightmares, horror movies and artists. A huge part of my inspirations come from the feeling that an artist leaves me with. Some of my favourites are H.R. Giger, Sarah Moon, Eric Lacombe, Floria Sigismondi, Dave McKean and Erlend Mork… to name a few.
“Insidious Biomorph” and “A Woman Scorned” are two of my favourite pieces. Can you tell us the story behind theses shoots?
Insidious Biomorph has to do with transformation into ‘true’ form and rising from the depths of the underground.
A Women Scorned expresses the raw emotion trapped within and damage done to the psyche when no one listens to the screams… you know, happy stuff
Many of your images seem not to be just photos but images that have a back story behind them. Like moments caught in time in reality. For example, “My Boyfriend’s Back” and “Road Kill” seem like snapshots but are probably, in reality, many hours of work lighting, art directing and setting up the shot. How much thought and time go into your images in general?
I like to set up a scene like a movie still. It can take days to weeks to plan a shoot. Locations, lighting, props, make-up effects, wardrobe – there are so many factors that come into play. Pre-production is definitely the most important part. It has to be fully set up because I cannot (and don’t want to) rely on photoshop to do what I could of done ‘in camera’. I just finished a piece called ‘Gift’ where I spent a week melting candles in preparation, my house was very smokey.
Do you work with a team of people on a regular basis?
I continue to work with some very talented individuals. Kat Morris of Deadly Nightshade Make-up has taken such a work load off me by helping out with make-up and spfx make-up. Midnight Manufacturing has created some beautiful, twisted props. Stitch Asylum Designs helps out with custom costuming if needed. Of course friends and family are always there if I need help.
Tell us some of the places where your images can be seen?
Online I have a few places where I display my work:
Model Mayhem: http://www.modelmayhem.com/1744529
My work has also been published in a variety of magazines, e zines and blogs.
Because of the subject matter do you get a lot of negative criticism?
Surprisingly no, not a lot. I’ve had overwhelming positive feedback. Of course there is always those few people that feel the need to express their negative opinion, which I completely respect if it’s done in a mature fashion. Art that has controversy is much more powerful. No hate mail yet though!
Technically, your images are superb. How much of your work is practical and how much is digital and done in post production?
I come from a film background, so I was used to getting everything ‘in camera’ and only having 26 to 32 frames to do it. That philosophy has carried over when I went digital. Don’t get me wrong, I love my photoshop and can spend days on an image tweaking it to perfection, but I use it more as a tool to do what is physically impossible in front of the lens. Models get bitchy when you really chop them in half
I understand you are also a big fan or tattoos and body modification. Can you tell us a little about your own?
I have a variety of tattoo pieces and it’s always a work in progress. Among my favourites are: a twisted tree on my scalp that goes down my neck with the roots across my shoulders, a franken-zombunny devouring bloody carrots and of course my sister’s initials. I have quite a few and all of them are close to my heart.
Any plans for more in the future?
I’m in the process of finishing off a beautiful, haunting custom piece by K Abbott. It covers my whole forearm, and it’s wicked.
Are you a big fan of the horror genre? What are some of your favourite films?
Horror is my life, I live and breath it. There are so many different kinds of horror movies. I love sci-fi horror, like Alien, Hellraiser and Cube – Torture porn like Human Centipede, Feed and Hostel – Asian Horror, like Shutter, The Eye and Dumplings – Funny Gore, like Dead Alive, Evil Dead and Poultrygeist… I could honestly go on all day.
What do you think of the modern day horror films as opposed to the older ones?
There was definitely a dry spell for awhile and the re-make bandwagon is a bit irritating, but I think a new breed of horror is being created. Although I have a deep love for classics and older movies, todays’ generation needs more. I think newer directors like Eli Roth and Rob Zombie know that their audience is intelligent and the same old tricks don’t work anymore. I love that they can portrait a captivating story but still have awesome gore.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
I watch a lot of movies to decompress. I also play with friends and my kitty. I think I work way too much.
Where can we find out more about you and your work?
I’ve been published and featured in a variety of magazines/e zines/blogs around the globe, including Inside Artzine, Gore Noir and Asylum Ink. I’ve been in Art Galleries and shows, as well as numerous horror conventions. My facebook page usually keeps people up to date as to where I’ll be next. Seeing work in print is so much prettier then on a computer screen