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“Another Horror Story For You…” Hidden Fears in Christopher McKenney’s Project

American photographer Christopher McKenney shot “100 Surrealistic Photos I’ve Made” - a project about childhood nightmares and dramatic events that you wish you could forget.


Christopher McKenney, 24

A photographer from Pennsylvania (US). His works fall across the genres of surrealistic and horror photography, and is fond of US history.

All my photos come from personal stories that I feel everyone can connect with in someway.

I think I may have lost my “fear emotion” years ago. I am most intrigued by things that some people find very “scary” – ghosts and serial killers are no exception. With photography I have been able to express the images that I have in my head that I am sure many other people will recognize. Whether I can or can not, I’m always trying to unmask the unknown.

I get so many different reactions from people that view my art from the feeling of love to remembering that nightmare that woke them up as a kid. Most of the time it’s “you should work for American Horror Story.”

The first photo that has an unusual story is titled “Regret.” I made that photo almost two years ago. The inspiration came from a girl I knew at the time. Her father, after about 19 years, thought it would be a great time to come back into her life. The balloons represent all of the birthdays that he had missed, the suitcase represents his return as he looks through the window at all of the times he has missed. “I’m sorry” is a phrase he used over and over again. I saw the dramatic effect it made on her and I understood that there were many other people who experienced this same struggle in their lives, and creating this photo was a way to express that understanding to those who view my art.

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Next is “Take Me Away.” Suicide is a thought that crosses someone’s mind when they feel like nothing else will help. I wanted to show that even though suicide is such a dark subject, at some point something will come along to lift those thoughts from your head and take you away from the pain that you are going through. The noose represents the thought of suicide and the balloons represent that thought finally being lifted from one’s head.

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Most people who know me know that I am a history buff. My interest in research has brought me to an understanding of my country (United States) that I’m sure not everyone has. This photo expresses the lack of knowledge that most people have of their own country and will pledge to that country even with a blind faith because of what they are told.

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One of the hardest and dangerous photos I have ever made was with my good friend Barry Barosky. The photo is titled “Dream of Serenity.” We decided to create a photo idea I had in my head for a while which involved engulfing a bed in flames. Before we started, Barry had found a fire extinguisher that would prove to be no help in the end. After photographing Barry falling onto the bed, we covered it in gas. Something we didn’t take into consideration was all of the dead, dry, fall foliage all around us and covering the ground. As the flames got bigger and I captured the photo I needed, it was time to put out the fire. Barry grabbed the fire extinguisher, pulled the pin, squeezed the handle, and nothing happened. At that point, he started running around like a mad man with a plastic rake trying to beat the fire out as the rake melted and I stood back laughing. We finally got the fire under control and things turned out much better than they could have.

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Two years ago I found myself in an abandoned house with my friend George. As we were walking around we found a young women’s diary from 1977. I found myself reading it all the night to find that it actually wasn’t a diary and instead was a journal of day to day letters from a very depressed girl to her mother who had passed away a month beforehand. That book and that woman have changed my life in ways I will never understand and though I haven’t found her yet I know she is with me everyday.

To wrap up the topic about fear, I don’t think I could give a better example than Roosevelt did, so I’ll leave you with his iconic quote: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”



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