Making ROBOT

October 28, 2010

This is my new photograph titled ROBOT.

This photograph is about addiction, including addiction to technology.

Fear of addiction is about the fear of the loss of self.

I began by acquiring the materials necessary to build a life-size Robot. I learned how to paint plastic objects so that they looked like metal. The body of the Robot was made from a baby bicycle seat and a diaper genie I found at a thrift store.

I spent weeks rummaging through thrift stores and flea markets looking for potential body parts. I used pieces from Tonka trucks and golf carts, grape juice bottles, tripods, plastic plumbing elements, flashlights, toy lightsabers, and knitting needles. Rivets were made by spray painting ‘googly eyes’ and then glueing them onto the body.

The head was made from an air humidifier, radio antennas, and different Star Wars ships pieced together. We placed a small LED flashlight inside the eye so that it would glow. It was important to me that my Robot have one red glowing eye like HAL in 2001.

I cast Bob Barber to play the part of the Robot’s willing victim.

We glued latex appliances onto Bob’s arms to create the oversized junky track marks.

I used eye shadow to accentuate Bob’s gaunt features and bulging veins. I used black clown make-up on his shirt so that we would appear to be covered in engine oil.

We attached metal rods to the Robot’s arms so that my assistants Matt Tady and Demian Vela could puppet them into position.

We used Fullers Earth to create the atmosphere of steam. Demian and I made a rig with an air compressor to blast it into the air. The texture of the Fullers Earth looked more like steam than the fog I usually use.

After placing Bob into position, my only directions to him were to look as if he were in a state of religious ecstasy. I removed the puppet rods using Photoshop.

I also used Photoshop to replace the yellow plastic syringes with actual glass containers of fluid. I did this separately so that I would be able to back-light the fluid and highlight the air bubbles inside.

The leg was made from a weedeater, a Star Wars lightsaber, part of a tripod, an old fishtank purifier, and bicycle sprockets. By this point I had run out of money, so I made only one leg and photographed it in four different positions. I added the four legs to the original photograph in Photoshop, completing the insect-like Robot design I was aiming for.

See you next time!


April 1, 2010

This is my new photograph titled KEYHOLE.

I wanted to create an image that would cast the viewer as a character in the scene. This image is about voyeurism, about seeing something that you shouldn’t, and worse – being caught in the act.  In this image the viewer is the incumbent victim.

I made an oversized keyhole for the camera to look through out of foamcore, copper paint, and sculpey.

Bob Barber played the part of the axe murderer. Patricia Castillo, who helped me with the make-up on BABYSITTER, returned to do Bob’s make-up again. I had her shave Bob’s head so that he would look more like a business man, or maybe a banker, gone berserk. I gave him sock garters.

Matt Tady and Demian Vela worked as my assistants. Here you can see our keyhole rig and some of our lighting. I placed a large softbox on the floor as my main light source. I placed a small hot light in front of the softbox to add a brighter, harsher light to Bob’s face. I used two clip-on desk lamps to light the rim of the keyhole prop.

I also placed small hot lights in both of the rooms behind Bob, and used a fog machine to add a little bit of atmosphere.

Matt Tady’s wife Danielle played the part of the victim’s body.  She stretched out on the floor and then scrunched down inside the nightgown to make room for a severed neck stump that I stuffed inside with her. I then sprayed her down with fake blood. From the camera’s position, the illusion worked.

I photographed a fake head on set.

I later photographed my sister Becky in the same position and comped her face onto the fake head using Photoshop.

See you next time!



October 1, 2009

This is my new photograph titled BABYSITTER.

This photo depicts a teenage babysitter being stalked by an escaped lunatic.

There is something very vulnerable about the teenage babysitter – no longer a child, but not yet an adult – attempting to shoulder grown-up responsibilities.

The concept of the escaped lunatic appears in at least three of my favorite Horror films: Black Xmas, Halloween, and When A Stranger Calls.

Ultimately, this photograph asks just one thing – what if something awful was waiting for you right around the corner?


Bob Barber, who played the title role in DEVIL, returned to play the part of the escaped lunatic.

The teenage babysitter is my 13 year old daughter Arinna.

And the baby is my niece Thea, who was also the baby in my photo SNAKE.


Patricia Castillo applied Bob’s make-up. I told her that I wanted a big lobotomy scar on the side of his head, held shut with metal staples.



She exaggerated the lines in Bob’s face, and whitened his skin until he was ashen, like a person who hadn’t seen sunlight in years.


She also added bruising and lacerations to his wrists for the broken handcuffs.


Demian Vela assisted me.


Matt Tady assisted as well.




Remember – don’t investigate any weird noises!  See you next time!


September 3, 2009

This is my new photograph titled LADY BATHORY.

Lady Elizabeth Bathory was a Hungarian countess in the 16th century, and one of the most prolific serial killers in history. She bathed in the blood of virgins to retain her youth and beauty.

The story of Lady Bathory serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of vanity.

I wanted to create a contemporary version of the Lady Bathory legend. In my photograph, the bloodletting is depicted as a kind of spa treatment, with Lady Bathory wearing a green mud mask and cucumbers on her eyes.



My beautiful wife Jen played the part of Lady Bathory. She also led the enormous task of painting and scraping the dried blood grout lines on 2,420 pieces of white tile.


Matt Tady and Demian Vela also helped with the walls of my set.



Here you can see Jen relaxing in the bathtub as I position the overhead light.


The difficult role of Lady Bathory’s virginal victim was played by Andee Hindery. She is an aerial fabric acrobat, and the only person I knew that could physically handle being hogtied and suspended from the ceiling.

Here you can see Matt and Demian about to hoist Andee into position.



Once Andee was in position, we quickly brought in Jen and began shooting.


Because Andee could not hold this position for very long, I decided to shoot the blood separately.

Jen made 5 gallons of fake blood. We got the recipe from a special feature on the movie Slither: dark Karo syrup, Hershey’s chocolate, and red food coloring.


I marked the tile wall where Andee’s neck had been, and then had Demian and Matt pour blood in countless different ways, trying to get the perfect blood pour.




Because the blood was photographed on my actual set, the lighting and the focus were a perfect match, so it was possible to combine the frames with the original image in Photoshop.

See you next time!

Making DEVIL

November 3, 2008

This is my new photograph titled DEVIL.

This image is about religious fear in children.

The Devil is a boogeyman we are taught in church.

The little girl is my daughter Chloe.

Bob Barber played the Devil. This was Bob Barber’s first photo shoot with me.

I constructed a set with a floor that was raised three feet off of the ground.  My friend Jason Coale acted as supervisor. My friends Damien Vela and Matt Tady helped with all of the carpentry.  I met Damien through the Kansas City Horror Club.  Demian and Matt also worked as production assistants during the actual shoot.

I drew out the shape of the crack on the carpet with a Sharpie pen, and then cut out the crack in the floor with a jigsaw, carpet and all.

To line the inside of the crack, we cut out separate cardboard rectangles and covered them with shiny red fabric. We nailed and taped the rectangles together into a position that would match the jagged contours of the crack.

Most of the toys belonged to me and my sisters as kids. Others were borrowed from my daughters. The angel drawing taped to the wall was made by my daughter Sade.

I wanted my Devil to be fire-engine red, with horns, long pointy ears, and an arrowhead tail.  I wanted him to look like a child’s drawing come to life.  I bought prosthetic appliances for the horns, ears, and the bony nubs on his spine. Jason Coale applied the make-up.

I used the fog machine to hide the fact that Bob’s make-up job did not extend below his waist.

I wrapped Bob’s waist in the same shiny red fabric that we used to line the crack of Hell. The tail was made from a rubber snake. I removed the head and spray painted the body red. I made the pointed tip of the tail out of cardboard, gaff tape, latex, and paint. We used fishing line to puppet the tail into position. I later erased the fishing line in Photoshop.

Chloe is smiling because everyone in the room, Devil included, broke out into spontaneous applause over her fantastic performance.

See you next time!