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Horror photographer making our nightmares real News Online's Cassie White

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Updated October 22, 2009 11:49:00

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Imagine if someone climbed inside your head, discovered you worst nightmares and brought them to life?

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The monster under your bed does exist in Joshua Hoffine's world, and the US photographer delves into some pretty dark pockets of the mind to recreate our childhood fears.

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The petrifying scenarios played out in his photographic series, Hoffine says, are not just the stuff of fantasy and overactive imaginations, but based on his own very real fears.

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Franklin to decide future within the week PHOTO: "The fears presented in these photographs are my

fears and my children's fears."

"The fears presented in these photographs are my fears and my children's fears," he said. "Almost everybody can remember having these kinds of fears as a child. I am specifically interested in universal fears - the more cliched the idea, the more I want to make a picture of it.

EXTERNAL LINK: Photo gallery: After Dark, My Sweet.

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WARNING - creepy photos MAP: United States

"The subtext is about child predation. That is my single greatest fear in the world - something happening to my children. "In a very real sense, these images have more to do with my parental fears for my children, than they do with the fears I experienced as a child." You can't help but wonder what goes on inside the mind of someone whose line of work is scaring the pants off people, but Hoffine says even to him, the creative process is a mystery.

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"Images will suddenly pop up in my mind. That initial moment is actually my favourite part of the whole process," he said. "If the idea seems strong enough, I'll write it down in my journal. I have enough material written down to keep me busy for 20 years." Hoffine's creepy but creative line of work is a family affair. Not only does he find inspiration from his kids, they - along with other friends and family members - play starring roles in the photos. "For many years, it was an entirely personal project that only my family and friends got to see," he said. "During that period it was my general policy not to show my daughters the finished image. However, once the work emerged online it became virtually impossible to keep it from them. "And they love it - all the more so because they're in them. Now they are the first people to see a new image. They offer the first and only critique of a new image before I post it online. "I don't hang my artwork in my home. I don't want them to live with these images of themselves under threat. But they are fiercely proud of the work, and get super excited every time they see themselves in a magazine." This path couldn't be more different to the direction Hoffine's career almost took. From Hallmark to horror, with a bit of wedding photography thrown in along the way, Hoffine says it was a "crooked path" that led him to where he is now.

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"I had left Hallmark Cards and wanted to create a personal project for myself," he said. "I started work on a series of photographs based on fairy tales. I loved the archetypal imagery of fairy tales and I wanted to create narrative images that could be imbued with metaphor and subtext. "While I was in pre-production on this project, I started reading Danse Macabre by Stephen King. "In that book he suggests that horror films are modern fairy tales and my mind started moving in another direction. What emerged was [photo series] After Dark, My Sweet." But Hoffine says these images have nothing on what's he's planning for his next series. "I think the next image to go into production will be for a series I'm planning called The Culture Of Fear, which deals with real world adult fears, like terrorism, nuclear holocaust, and plague," he said. "These images will have the buffer of fantasy stripped away. These images may be too awful to share with the world. We'll see. I just want to try one out." Topics: photography, arts-and-entertainment, human-interest, united-states

First posted October 21, 2009 10:42:00

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