Every one of us has a lasting image of horror stuck in a dark corner of our mind. That fleeting vision we see when the lights first go out during a thunderstorm. The first thing we saw on the backs of our eyelids when we closed our eyes to go to sleep as youngsters. Care to take a few minutes to get to know a woman who celebrates these images for a living?
A self-taught photographer, April A. Taylor mixes the beautiful science of photography with the dark undercurrent of the macabre.
Born in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, Ms. Taylor has had a deep affinity for photography throughout her life. Her passion has been well-received.
April’s work in the dark and fine arts have been published and exhibited across the globe, in five countries as of this write-up. Over 100 art galleries, print publications, websites and special events have celebrated her talents. In 2010, April began making the horror and sci-fi/fantasy/comic book convention rounds as an artist guest. This all accumulated with her being named the first ever Artist Of The Month by Detroit area radio station 93.9 FM. In late 2010, American Frame named her Featured Artist Of The Month and in March of 2011, she was runner-up for the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Award of 2010 Artist Of The Year.
I cannot stress enough, though- it’s not all about horror with Ms. Taylor. Please check out her website (a link will be provided at the end of this interview!) and take a look at her full library of portfolios. ‘Death Of The American Dream’ may just be my absolute favorite.
April was heavily influenced by arguably the most creative music video of all time, one of the greatest horror minds to ever take to a pen and paper and one particularly angry burn victim.
Take a stroll with me and let’s enjoy some photography appreciation with the incredibly talented April A. Taylor!
1. Your love for horror and photography have made a stunning marriage. You have a laundry list of accolades to your credit, and for good reason. What do you find so captivating about horror art?
Horror art not only allows me to combine my life long love of horror with my creative side but it is also the perfect outlet for societal commentary and it allows me to examine the psychology of fear. I have shot a lot of Fine Art pieces with society and psychology in mind as well, but none of them have resonated in quite the same way and I believe this points to the importance of expressing strong emotions and thoughts through work of a more controversial nature.
2. What are some of your favorite horror films?
The original A Nightmare on Elm Street series, especially 1, 3 & 7, are my absolute favorites. I also love the original Halloween, Romero’s early zombie films, Shaun of the Dead, [REC], the early Universal Studios films and a countless list of other horror movies.
3. Who are your role models in the genre?
Clive Barker was my original inspiration, for his writing, film making and artwork. In addition to Barker, I’m also a big fan of Chris Mars.
4. Do you have any interest in a career as a filmmaker?
In short, yes. I’ve always felt an urge to create movies and that has influenced the style of my photo shoots, which are run more like a movie set than a typical photo shoot set.
5. Your photos are mesmerizing. I’m left feeling as if I’ve watched an entire film after each collection of photos I see. I’ve read that you organize a shoot very much like a director would a film session. Are you more inclined to follow your vision to a T or do you sometimes find controlled chaos to be a good thing?
First, let me thank you for your kind words! I make sure to capture my vision but I do also allow for things to happen as they will. I’m very open to the collaboration that happens between multiple creative people on set and, as such, I encourage the models to try out their ideas as well. Sometimes the set itself will provide unexpected props and ideas and I love working with new ideas on set.
6. Is there a specific collection you hold near and dear to your heart?
This is always a very hard question to answer, as they’re all very important to me for different reasons. The Post-Apocalyptic Princess set was my first foray into Dark Art with a model and as such it will always be very important to me. I’m also very fond of the Mine set as it is a good example of what can happen when creativity is allowed to run freely from the original concept to the execution, all of which took less than 24 hours. In most cases the process of plotting out a shoot takes weeks, sometimes even several months, so it was refreshing to be able to shoot something while the initial spark was so fresh. She’s Dead involved the most brainstorming on set, and took the longest amount of pre-shoot preparation by far, including 3 hours on set for the makeup and costuming. And of course the Dark Europe set was very personally rewarding and contains a lot of memorable experiences for me especially being in the Paris Catacombs, at times completely alone, for several hours.
7. Who do you credit to opening your eyes to the horror genre?
Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ video, followed by the original A Nightmare on Elm Street and the Books of Blood by Clive Barker. I was always intrigued by horror, but my parents were less than thrilled by my interest in it. When Thriller came out I was six years old and I can remember asking over and over again to see the video but they continuously said no. Finally my aunt and uncle convinced them to let me watch it at their house and I was completely taken by the entire experience and I’ve been in love with zombies ever since. So I guess the most accurate answer to your question would be my aunt and uncle, although they were more interested in letting me see a video that I really wanted to see than they were in anything to do with horror.
8. What advice would you offer young women interested in the horror photography industry?
Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do, just do it. Also, as you develop your own style go with it. Nothing is more satisfying than producing work that you’re pleased with and, ultimately, that’s more important than the response of critics. I’ve been very fortunate to receive compliments on my work from a wide array of people in the horror industry but I do not create my work with the thought of satisfying the audience, rather I create it all for deeply personal reasons. Finally, I can’t stress enough the importance of understanding marketing and sales. I suggest that all aspiring artists spend some time working within those industries before they attempt to make a career out of art.
9. Who are some directors you admire for their artistic/photographic approach behind the camera?
Christopher Nolan immediately comes to mind. His work first caught my attention back in 2000 with Memento and he continues to improve with each of his films. Cinematographers typically catch my attention more than directors, though, and a good one can change the entire feel of a movie. Scott Kevan, for example, had some very interesting perspectives in the film Cabin Fever which improved the overall quality of the film.
10. What projects are you currently working on?
I have several concepts that I’m working on which will eventually turn into shoots, including one that is way bloodier than anything else I’ve done to date, and I’m also still working on the editing stage of my Dark Europe set.
It was my pleasure chatting with April and I sincerely thank her for her time and support with this interview!
Do yourself a favor and check out April’s awesome website, chock-full of amazing photography!