Photos of Christmas in LA Look Like the Opening Credits of a Horror Film

Markus Henttonen's photo series proves that holiday lights can be pretty creepy.
December 24, 2016, 5:10am
Markus Henttonen, Silent Night. Images courtesy of the artist and Galerie Vanessa Quang

This article was first published on December 24, 2015 but we still think it rocks!

When Finnish photographer Markus Henttonen first visited LA in the winter of 2011, he was struck by the holiday light displays that dominated the city's suburban front yards with much more grandiosity than those he was used to back home. He sensed a "tension on the quiet streets," compelling him to snap strangely foreboding pictures of the holiday decorations in what eventually became the photo series Silent Night.


Henttonen says that it's the combination of bright lights, signs displaying aggressive phrases like "Armed Response," and empty LA streets that creates the ominous feeling throughout his photos. "I was not looking for the brightest, biggest decorations but more the feeling, how the house related to its environment," he tells The Creators Project. "There seemed to be a lot of invisible barriers that were not to be crossed."

The biggest struggle for Henttonen involves finding the places where these barriers are particularly obvious. The suburbs were all almost completely empty, save the occasional passing car, which the photographer says heightened the tension while photographing cheery lights. "It is the bright surface that makes the inside and surrounding shadows seem even darker. For me the houses are like mirrors of the society, it is fine to be looking at the surface but not any deeper."

Below, find some of the images Henttonen has collected for Silent Night.

Visit Henttonen's website to stay up-to-date on all of his ongoing photo sets.


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