The Candid Asylums of Jeremy Harris

When I first followed Beth’s suggestion and looked over Jeremy Harris’ website, my love of portraits naturally drew me to that section of his portfolio. The style there didn’t appeal to me at all – not stylized enough for my taste. But it turns out that’s precisely what makes his photos of asylums so spot on.

With so many photographers using lights and Photoshop to accentuate spookiness when capturing old hospitals and decaying buildings, Jeremy’s plain, day-lit images stand apart. There is a simple honestly that allows us to not dwell on various effects, however pretty they might be, but instead reveals the heart of these spaces. The result is more brutal and attractive than one might expect.

12 Responses to “The Candid Asylums of Jeremy Harris”

  1. Nadya Says:

    I actually like the “so many photographers” links a lot. But the watermarks… no!

    I think what really makes Jeremey Harris stand apart is his detail to texture. The scratched-up wood, the chipping paint – you can tell he really cared about capturing these things. A lot of the Kirkbride buildings are being demolished or repurposed, and it’s good that he’s documenting them before they are gone. They’re as beautiful (and creepy!) on the outside as they are on the inside:

    Check out the exterior of the Taunton State Hospital.

    Also, wanted to add that these photos remind me of the movie Session 9 a lot. That movie was set in a 19th century insane asylum and what made the visuals so scary to me was the fact that it wasn’t all spooky in the dark like you’d expect, but that there was plenty of sunlight. That somehow made it more unsettling.

  2. Jemibook Says:

    Yeah I loved the asylum in Session 9 as well, last I heard they were trying to turn the buildings into apartment.

  3. Alice Says:

    Ah! I remember seeing these just a little while ago on BoingBoing! So perfect and and real and unlike….well, just about any trying-to-be-spooky-dilapidated-building pictures floating around out there…

  4. Vivacious G Says:

    Like Nadya said – the texture is really is really beautiful.

  5. Zoetica Says:

    For me, all the HDR starts to bend together after a certain point, even if it’s pretty as I said in the post. There is so much of it and it’s so heavy handed that unless you’re a real pro with it it harms the image rather than enhance it. Seeing all the textures in Jeremy’s images in natural light is far more potent to my eyes.

  6. the daniel Says:

    Too true about the HDR – folks seem to think it’s as easy as applying a photoshop plugin for instant success. When I think good HDR though, I think local hero Dave Bullock.

  7. Alice Says:

    …do the over-textured images in the “photographers” link scream “Silent Hill” to anyone else…?

  8. Zoetica Says:

    Alice, I thought the same thing – I wouldn’t be surprised if it were intentional.

    The Daniel, good call on Dave there, he’s great.

  9. gooby Says:

    Its so odd watching this stuff get around. That collection is up at the coffee shop around the corner from my house! And then within three days of seeing it, it has infested all my usual morning online reading holes.

    There’s some shots of an old hospital here in San Francisco that we used to break into all the time to take spooky photos.

    Jeremy’s pics give me the urge for a little breakin and entering…

  10. Nadya Says:

    Jemibook, the hospital from Session 9 is Danvers State Mental Hospital, and it’s currently in the process of being demolished. At least the film captured it before it’s gone!

  11. Tequila Says:

    @Alice…they just scream lazy to me. Doing decay be it realistic or stylized is tough. Thankfully the net and really dozens of other sources give you enough to work with and study that cheap disasters like those shown in that link shouldn’t be so common.

    The rest of the stuff in the post is indeed much better than what’s usually seen. I like the stuff from a technical standpoint even if the images themselves feel a lil…calm. Almost pleasant really. Not a bad thing mind you…cause frankly at this point who would be scared of these places? They’re so much a part of what people enjoy visually we’d all live in such places I think if not for the health hazards involved.

  12. Olivia Says:

    The picture of the kitchen with the open cabinet in the “photographers” link reminds me of Exmortis. I want to click the cabinet and find a bloody butcher knife or something…