Asylum Photoshoot

I am really into horror photography. This is my second concept project where I went all out in creating a new world in a local Detroit area. Though this one is not as gruesome as my first big documentary style photoshoot, the idea that a lot of these simple concepts mean life or death for people makes it scary, I think. I wanted to do a photo project about all of the idiotic yet interesting reasons that people, mostly women, were admitted into Eloise State Hospital and Asylum (Poor House) 100 years ago. It would be for regular female troubles, mood swings were considered hysteria, eating disorders meant you were psychotic, not just conditioned to believe one thing or another via society’s view on body types. Some people, though, really did need psychiatric help, if only that was what asylums like this were for. Everyone was drugged up or starved into submission, not allowed to sleep and sometimes people were just dropped off on the doorstep like babies at a firehouse, no personal records, nobody paying for them to be there and they were treated like dogs. It’s inhumane and ghastly. But at the time it was completely normal.

So my project was bringing to light the mix of painful and normalcy in each photo. We couldn’t get into Eloise since that’s illegal and I had a whole team and the photographer was a bit of a wimp. But what we DID do was get into Historic Fort Wayne for the afternoon before some friends were hosting a group for ghost hunting shenanigans. And before you ask, yes, Fort Wayne is exceptionally haunted. I personally have heard people walking in the Barracks, had a conversation with a man named Tom who died in the 67 riots within the walls of the jail over spirit box, my friends have heard their names called in the sally ports and had the doors slam in their faces- and those doors are roughly 2 feet thick and probably half a ton. So, lots of action and since Eloise is haunted, this fits right in. It shed a little bit of light on Fort Wayne, which has since become a State Park and apparently a place for AYSO soccer games. Most people don;t know this place exists until someone tells them, and since I love it here (BIG ghost fiend over herrrrr) I wanted to do a project that shows off the beauty of this place as well as the darker side it could potentially hold. Like people.

I did all of the makeup and costuming on this shoot, scouted all of the locations within the Fort, created each shoot’s concept and character premise and searched for my own team to make this come to life. I rented costumes from a local place, hired all local people and even bought the cakes which weren’t homemade from a local bakery for Ashley’s set and also for eating while not next to an ancient toilet. None of the people working on this project knew about the Fort and I didn’t tell them it was haunted until they got there. The first shot is Adam and the Amber Roses (strange coincidence)- living dolls. They wake up every day for cupcakes and tea parties and refuse to believe that they aren’t stuffed animals in a little girl’s bedroom. It’s really nice that they found each other. Ashley is bulimic. She set herself up for a feast of cakes and sweets where she would find the most privacy- a decaying toilet on the top floor (It was SO hot up there she almost passed out between that and the sugar). Alexandra is a former beauty obsessed with her looks. She was burned in a devastating fire that took her beauty from her but she is one of those kinds of women that thinks just adding a little cheek rouge and some powder will make it all better. She really likes looking at herself and truly doesn’t see the scabs and scars. Kristie is a woman who had too many opinions and didn’t like being pushed around by her husband. Now she’s here. Lobotomized. Whoops. I’d like to redo the living dolls concept in another bigger way. I like the idea very much and would like to expand on it in a truly psychotic yet cool way, like something you’d see in season 7 Criminal Minds or something. Not or something, but exactly, but, you know, that show is gone.

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