Untitled by Bethany Helzer (Or Little Things Can Also Be Creepy)
It's October, and so we feel inclined to explore some creepy photos. In case you missed them, we've already introduced you to photos by David Van Bael with his scene at an abandoned mine and Noah Feldklipp who pulled from pop culture to inspire discomfort. This week, we're going to take a slightly different angle as we explore how small objects can be just as creepy with the right light and handling. And so I'd like to introduce you to an untitled work from Bethany Helzer, shown above.
Bethany's photo is a different type of creepy for a different set of reasons. We're not viewing evidence of some horrible occurrence, the scene is not suggesting some other sort of horror and Bethany is not pulling from any other classical creep factors. We're just looking at a bunch of old binders (I think). Granted, it doesn't look like they've been touched for years and the dirt, rust and deteriorating labels are a clear indicator of abandonment. Perhaps it is that reason why these photo could be considered creepy to some. Of course to be fair, dirt, grime and poorly maintained labels may not be enough to invoke such feelings for some people. So Bethany pushed the envelope a little further in the way she photographed the scene and in how she processed it.
A shallow depth of field is the unsung hero here. You may not think much about it at first, but the blurry background and the fact that half the photo isn't in focus is disconcerting. We are unable to clearly understand the setting; and the unknown can be uncomfortable. A shallow depth of field can also create discomfort by making us feel boxed in, or it can make us feel like our senses – specifically vision – is failing. That is not a comfortable feeling. Now I doubt this photo is making anyone run away screaming – it's really not that kind of creepy – but it subtly suggests some uncomfortable thoughts. Suck most of the color out of the shot and our mind is ready to believe that this is a scary setting. Maybe Bethany's photo invokes imagery from our own minds; a place we've been before or footage we've viewed. Deep down, we know that there's a deeper, darker story here and we are almost afraid to open that book.
Bethany Helzer is a photographer born and raised in the greater Detroit area and now lives near Madison, Wisconson. Her work isis inspired by her urban exploration roots and the natural beauty of her current home. The result is an eclectic portfolio that is both dark and bright: Rust and flowers. But it doesn't matter what she's shooting, the finished product will ultimately be beautiful. In addition to her Flickr profile, you can also view her works and thoughts at her personal website, or you can purchase her works from her Etsy page.