Gory greetings from beyond the grave, please introduce yourself and tell us where you are from.
My name is Rick, and I’m the proprietor of Horrify Me, a horror-themed photographic portrait studio based in Lydden, Kent, in the UK. I’m a graphic designer, photographic artist, and makeup artist as well as a life-long horror fanatic. I’ve loved horror since I was a little kid. I think I actually became a horror fan while I was still in my mum’s womb, surrounded by all those guts and gore.
Please explain to your horror loving audience what you do?
I do portrait photography. The difference is, instead of clients looking pretty and being photographed under the most flattering lighting, people are transformed into grotesque horror characters and photographed under moody, atmospheric horror lighting. I turn people into zombies, vampires, demons, cult horror icons such as Freddy Krueger, Valak the nun, and many others. You could say it’s a “novelty” portrait, but the makeup, lighting and photographic technique are all done to a very high artistic standard.
Tell us more about “Horrify me”. When was it established and what was your inspiration?
I studied fine art and design, and I’ve worked in design and graphics my whole working life. I’ve done several book cover designs for authors during my career. In 2014, an author named Lisa Richardson asked me to create a new cover for her brilliant trilogy of books, Blog of the Dead. This project led me to arrange a photoshoot with a few zombie fanatic buddies, to generate images for the book cover. It was so much fun that a bunch of us later created more zombie photos, just for a laugh. Then some other friends wanted to dress as vampires and take some photos, and out of nowhere I appeared to have a weird new hobby, but no decent camera equipment. One day, someone asked me how much I charged for the horror photos. I was actually very surprised that someone was willing to actually pay me to do this! So I took their cash and shot some photos, and they were really happy. I kept getting requests for horror shoots so I decided to invest in decent camera gear, studio equipment and, of course, a decent makeup kit! Being something of a horror expert, I knew very early that lighting was one of the key factors to good imagery and so I took some training from a film set professional on how to light horror correctly, which was one of the wisest choices I ever made. Like all the best things in life, Horrify Me was a complete unplanned accident, which I simply never saw coming.
In terms of inspiration, I grew up enjoying all the 1980s horror flicks, which are still greatly loved today by everyone. I particularly loved the George A. Romero zombies, and of course the gore effects of Tom Savini. Much of my work is inspired by the work of Savini. There was something quite spellbinding about his gory creations which has stayed with me my whole life.
How is it working as a couple? Who does what?
Everything is based on my work, and my wife Claire helps out in the studio. I’ve trained her in some good horror makeup techniques (she’s actually pretty talented at it!). Some days she just comes along to help in basic duties and other days she takes on full-on creative tasks. She’s got an excellent creative streak. Claire is also a pretty fine model and she’s allowed me to experiment on her many times, try out ideas, or sometimes just shoot stuff for fun. I’m actually very lucky to be married to someone who is into it and can share the weirdness, and I love working with her on shoots.
What has been your most requested character or scenario?
Zombies and vampires continue to be the most popular requests. I’ve met hundreds of amazing people, from all walks of life, from office workers to university lecturers to medical professionals to tattooists and everything in between, and transformed them all into monsters. It always fascinates me to see how their personality changes after I’ve created their new face.
Do you have a favorite?
Oh boy. I get asked this a lot! I actually have lots of favorites but if I was to pick just one, I’d have to say the Bride of Pinhead. This wasn’t a client shoot, it was an in-house project that I wanted to tackle. I sometimes create big, complex projects for myself just to take on a challenge or just for the fun of it. Bride of Pinhead took a lot of planning, careful design, and preparation. The model, Lottii Rose, was incredibly patient as she was hand-painted and had hundreds of pins fixed to her body over a ten hour period. The photos were incredibly rewarding, attracting a lot of praise (including from Clive Barker himself which was nice).
Tell us about some of the awards you have received, what types of venues have you exhibited your work at
I received a National Photography Award in the creative image category, which was my first. They sent me a medal and a certificate both of which are now displayed in my man-cave. I did enter the award scheme in the same spirit as most people buy a lottery ticket: I won’t win, but it’s fun to try. I didn’t think my work would ever win any accolades so that was a surprise. I later won a prestigious SCAR award for excellence in design and creativity, which is still my proudest achievement. The SCAR Award is presented by ScareTour, and is the official award of the UK scare industry. To have my work acknowledged by the horror trade is incredible - I still have to pinch myself when I think about it. I have an awesome piece of silverware on my shelf with Horrify Me engraved into it. I also won the Alt Fashion Photographer of the Year poll two years running, neither of which I entered (photographers get nominated for this). I was up against incredible competition so this was also a big surprise.
I normally exhibit work at various horror conventions around the UK but one of the best was when I was invited to exhibit at the Bram Stoker Festival in Whitby in 2014. That was amazing.
What other projects have you done?