Creepy Halloween Photography

Creepy Halloween Photography at Dawson Street Pub

The blood red walls and crimson leather sofas in the back room of the Dawson Street Pub is the perfect place for a creepy Halloween photography exhibition. Curated by Philly’s famous cemetery photographer Ed Snyder, the show has everything: ghosts, goblins, witches, haunted houses, cobwebs, body parts and cemeteries. Ed and I talked about the fear factor of the exhibit and the strange attraction of scary places.

Saint Roch’s Cemetery in New Orleans has a chapel there and people hang prosthetic limbs. They’ve done this for a long time, probably at least one hundred years. It’s either in thanks to the Saint for helping them or it’s in supplication to him for his assistance in the future. So Veronika Schumde was there recently, within the last year, and I’ve been to New Orleans twice and since I’ve returned I’ve learned of it’s existence. I’m really upset that I missed that, I would have loved to see the chapel with the walls covered with prosthetics. Ha, ha, ha, heh, heh!

This one here is a community mausoleum in Poland, the photographer is in Poland right now photographing his passion, Jewish cemeteries. His name is Jonathan Klein. Jon owns The Dive Bar in South Philly, his hobby is to photograph abandoned Jewish cemeteries.”

Creepy Halloween Photography

Creepy Halloween Photography at Dawson Street Pub, The EndDavid Swift Photography

What was the impetus for this show?

“Well, it is October and it’s close to Halloween, so I invited people to submit some creepy work for a group show. And I photograph in cemeteries, I consider my own work to be creepy, but I was not prepared for the stuff that people submitted. Way creepier than my stuff.”

Considering the creepy group that we hang with that’s saying something?

“I was shocked! And many of them are women, they do much creepier work. Look at this one from Marietta Dooley – what is that!?! I got the jpg in my e-mail and I thought, ‘My God! What is that?’ A lot of these people are not in any particular photo club, I just know them as photographers from around the city. I knew they were capable of making freaky works, so I invited them and they certainly submitted much more creepy work than what I expected.”

Creepy Halloween Photography

Creepy Halloween Photography at Dawson Street PubLeg Up, by Veronika Schmude

“Now the one from Frank Rausch I would expect, that’s from Laurel Hill Cemetery. I’ve got two pieces which I have exhibited in the past, Stone Roses and over there is one that’s kind of Edward Gorey-ish image of a Victorian woman in a cemetery. The color is done in post processing, I altered the colors a little bit and muted everything because the original was in color.”

I thought it was hand colored, that’s kind of what it looks like.

“You know, I used to do that. I used to hand tint photographs but that is so much work. My brother, Tim Snyder‘s, photograph is a picture of his friend’s basement which is filled with G.I. Joe dioramas which in itself is creepy. Those are German soldiers in vintage 60s G.I. Joe outfits. The most subltle piece in the show, which hardly looks like anything, is a concrete bunker in the woods, way up in North East PA, there’s a place called Concrete City which was built in 1918. It was a village, an entire village made of concrete and it was only in existence for about five years and then it was abandoned. So now this thing exists out in the woods, urban explorers go out there and photograph, graffiti artists have  great time but you have to go through the woods to get to it. I appreciate abandoned site photography because I would never do that myself. That’s dangerous. Heh, heh, heh!”

Creepy Halloween Photography

Creepy Halloween Photography at Dawson Street PubThe Portender, Marietta Dooley

That kind of exploring is for the young.

“Well, I’ve done some exploring like that in the past five years, but I’ve also been arrested doing it. So…

We also have some night photography from Emma Stern, she works at Laurel Hill Cemetery and they run night photography workshops there. That’s the kind of image I was expecting people to submit but this other stuff is off the wall.”

Horror is such a big part of the world we live in now. Years back Comcast had a channel called FearNet and they had grotesque posters all over the city, especially the creepier parts of town. In your opinion, what would you say is the state of horror now?

“I think it’s mostly fiction and people like to be scared. When you go to a horror movie it’s a thrill. I’m not sure it’s horror as much as much as what really freaks me out is when I personally experience something like that, which not many people talk about. When you talk about paranormal and ghost hunters and stuff like that. I used to think that I refused to believe in it because if I believe in it they’re going to come and get me. So I don’t believe in it but then hanging out and photographing in cemeteries and abandoned places I’ve had some experiences that have really chilled me. I wouldn’t say that I believe in ghosts or the afterlife like seances like ghost hunters do but there’s something out there. And every once in a while I’ve been totally creeped out that I ran away.”

Creepy Halloween Photography

Creepy Halloween Photography at Dawson Street Pub, 100 Dawson St., Philadelpia, PA 19127, (215) 482-5677

Participating artists:

  • Veronika Schmude
  •  Frank Rausch
  •  Karen Schlecter
  •  Jonathan Klein
  •  Ed Snyder
  •  Patricia Kinsman
  •  Emma Stern
  •  Karen Schlecter
  •  David Swift
  •  Tim Snyder
  •  Marietta Dooley
  •  Maria Rose

The show ends Saturday at 2:00 on the Day of the Dead. Happy Halloween! And remember, ‘Boo!‘ is just applause from ghosts.

Thanks to Ed Snyder for the photographs.

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Written and photographed by DoN Brewer

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