View Full Version : Haunt/Dark Photography

Jennifer Willenborg
06-26-2013, 05:15 PM

I am a photographer in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. I specialize in dark photography (haunts, Halloween, macabre engagement photos, etc. etc...)
I work closely with DarkWood Manor Haunted House here in Luray VA, which will be featured in the upcoming issue of HauntWorld Magazine (note: I was not with the team when the photo shoot for the magazine took place, but I take the current photos for the DarkWood promotional page.) My work has been featured on the Pumpkinrot blog, and I am currently working on a photographic documentary.

If you or someone you know prefers a dark twist on photography and would like to set up a shoot for any event (engagement, wedding, party, etc.) please contact me at the email below.

Furthermore, if you operate a haunt that you are proud of, or know of an exceptional haunt that you feel needs recognition or would like a photo shoot done for promotion, advertisement, or for memory sake, please email me at halloweenhollow@yahoo.com to discuss locations and prices. I've also attached a small selection of my work.


Thank you so much.

06-26-2013, 07:20 PM
Better angles, lower lighting, shutter release for multiple seconds. Shallower depth of field and less grainy photo editing will help as well.

This was taken at my home haunt by myself with a low end canon 5 years ago.... Just a suggestion, people don't want to see Instagram looking photos, they want the essence of an attraction or scene to be captured forever in time.16637

06-27-2013, 03:12 PM
Funny how some people respond to criticism, then delete their post right afterwards. Just saying don't be the least bit surprised when no one contacts you.


Jennifer Willenborg
06-27-2013, 03:20 PM
I can't for the life of me find where I asked for criticism in my post.

But I will add that I just purchased a 50mm f/1.4 lens that should upgrade the quality and the shallow depth of field, along with enhance and give me the ability to shoot more clearly in low-light situations. So, I'm with you there. :wink:

Please note, my clients are happy and are repeat customers. You informing me of what people 'want' is null and void. Every one has a different style, every individual has a different need in want they want to portray. Please don't try to speak for all of them. This is art and to each his own. Be a dear and respect that.


Jennifer Willenborg
06-27-2013, 03:26 PM
I was just trying to edit my post and for some reason I had to delete it because it wouldn't post. Technical difficulties.

What's with the hate?

I'm also not sure why you're exerting so much effort in trying to make me feel as if I'm bad at what I'm doing.

Try a little acceptance, it doesn't hurt. :)

06-28-2013, 06:52 AM
It isn't a matter of hate as much as it is more of an issue of photography. Not cutting on you per se, mostly amateur photographers in general. They purchase a DSLR and call themselves photographers, without understanding ISO settings, DOF requirements, etc etc.

I'm not saying your pictures suck, I'm saying if you look at Haunted Overload, The Darkness, Disturbia, Scarehouse, Hundred Acres Manor, Field Of Screams, etc etc etc you will see no comparison.

Before marketing your "photography" skills to an industry, you may want to practice more, understand more, and then DO more along the lines of what PEOPLE want. I do know what people want. They want photographs that, like Netherworld in Atlanta, will sell themselves. Maybe it's a matter of lack of content, and you just haven't been given an opportunity to practice with major players in the game, but the days of vague photos and mediocre clarity are over.

Haunted house owners want clear, concise, creative photographs that BRING IN clients.

Look for for the thread on this forum regarding Eric from Haunted overload, and see how the company working with him (Artifact Images or something of the like) does. Their photographs are incredible. And they do their job: capture the audiences' attention and bring them in.

Not trying to discourage you from marketing your services, but please be aware of OUR industry, and what it is that sells our industry to the consumers: GOOD multimedia.

Practice makes perfect. Keep working at it.

Jennifer Willenborg
06-28-2013, 11:24 AM
I've had my camera for several years, and I do understand ISO and manual settings quite well. I operate a photography business, have completed a photographic documentary, I have work in several galleries, and have been featured in several magazines. However much of my work has been set in rural areas, outside with natural lighting. You assuming that I'm just someone who purchased a camera and tattooed 'photographer' on my forehead is not a fair or apt assumption. I've also worked closely with haunts and those in the business for over a decade, so you assuming that I'm new to this scene is also incorrect.

I applied vintage filters to only about 2 or 3 of the 10 photos I posted, and this was to give a 'gritty, vintage horror film' feel that the client requested. As far as the other photos, I feel like the clarity and 'better angles' and depth of field is there. At least to the point that my lens permitted at the given time.

I am new at actual HAUNT photography (relatively) and only began this winter, therefore I haven't had the opportunity to shoot any haunts 'in action' as it were. Nearly all the photos I've taken were on a run through of a local haunted house that was being prepared to be disassembled for the season...there was not much 'scare' or 'ambiance' to be had, they were technical photos and I feel like they aren't anywhere near the poor quality that you are making them out to be. I posted on this site in an attempt to open my options and get that 'practice' you speak of. How do I get practice unless I advertise myself and reach out to the community? I never compared myself with any of those that have been in the business for years, therefore to compare me with those is just silly. It's like someone coming to play music at a bar for the first time and you yelling from the audience 'You're NOT LED ZEPPELIN' and then tearing apart his songs and style and saying 'everyone that picks up a guitar thinks they're a "musician"' Not paying any attention to the fact that this person just wants an opportunity to get into the scene and learn more and become more. Why would you discourage someone, anyone that is just trying to be a part of something they love?

I'll keep practicing, just like everyone that gets anywhere does.

Have a wonderful day.

06-28-2013, 12:42 PM
Honestly? Been doing this for many years, still don't charge anyone anything. That's why. Because I feel you shan't charge money for a learning experience. Charging money for mediocre services is a scam. Period.

Have a wonderful day.

Jennifer Willenborg
06-28-2013, 01:05 PM
I bow to the king of photography and all things haunt-related. I shall throw my camera in the garbage and put an end to my scams!

Now wipe your hands in accomplishment, go forth, and troll on.

06-28-2013, 02:21 PM
Honesty isn't calling trolling. It's called honesty. I wasn't rude or ignorant in any of my posts, simply honest and suggestive.

Have a wonderful day.

06-28-2013, 02:27 PM
Jennifer, did you get my PM?

Jennifer Willenborg
06-28-2013, 02:41 PM
I just did, thank you! Please let me know if you received my reply.
New here, have no idea what I'm doing :)

06-30-2013, 06:57 PM
Sorry Jennifer about the criticism. I think your work is great, and that is coming from someone that has been doing this for 13 years. I also have a degree in art and I use to work as a photographer when I was younger. Your photos aren't the general haunted house photos with lots of pretty lights and staged actors. Those kind of photos have their place, but so does yours. Your pictures have a darker more visceral appeal which is cool and unique.
This message forum has become rather critical of late. Lots of folk want to be critics and pass their opinions whether you asked for it or not.

06-30-2013, 08:06 PM
It isn't so much criticism as it is honesty. If the truth hurts, so be it. I'm not scared to take honesty, nor am I scared to give it.

Sorry that the new America gets so sensitive over simple commentary. I've taken my fair share of licks and still do, and it has made me a better person because of it.

I suppose folks like myself, Shane, DA, etc just are too honest for our own good.

06-30-2013, 09:18 PM
You are not only honest, but amusing as well.
It amazes me how many people on the Internet are willing to be "honest" by passing their unwanted and unfounded criticism. If you really felt you had to be honest and you wanted to be helpful you could have sent her a private message giving your opinion. Doing it openly is not honest. It is more akin to being petty.
Well, allow me to be honest. In the "new America" and the old America your opinion sucks.
And, for the second time today, I will not be reading this post again. So, please feel free to continue your maverick brand of honesty, and maybe someone who gives a rat's backside will read it.

06-30-2013, 09:28 PM
Hey man, whatever you say. Honesty is honest, whether its in a PM or open forum.

06-30-2013, 09:30 PM
Unlike many others, I don't "sugar coat" things to make everyone feel good. Photos like that won't win awards, won't be on billboards, and won't be on professional haunted house websites.

If she's doing it for fun, that's fine. But posting to charge people is kind of absurd. Period.

Sorry, guess my honesty slipped out again!

Allen H
06-30-2013, 10:24 PM
I think what you are failing to remember is that it is art. "It isn't so much criticism as it is honesty", Is untrue. It is an opinion on what you like or what you believe the industry likes but it cannot be fact since it is an opinion. Are you honestly expressing your opinion? Sure. Can that make you appear to be an A-hole? Sure. You dont like it, we get it.
Allen H

07-01-2013, 03:40 AM
Fair enough.