“I found so many bizarre phobias,” says Anna Hoormann about her research into things that people are oddly scared about. What started as a mid-term university project became a fascination with some of the most unusual things that frighten humans today. Are we really human if we’re not even remotely scared of anything?
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We probably share a lot of phobias among people we know. For someone who loves taking pictures from the rooftops of skyscrapers, Acrophobia (intense fear of heights ) affects me. I can’t even walk to the edge of the roof of a building without feeling like the floor is going to give way. But if I had to reveal a highly uncommon phobia of mine, it’s the fear of anti-theft alarms going off as I leave a retail store. Incidentally, this happened to me just a couple of days ago as I was walking out of an electronics store. I didn’t even have any bags on me. Turns out it was something in a bag that someone else who walked out at the same time as me was carrying. Whenever I see an anti-theft alarm at a store, I have this awful fear that it will ring when I walk out of the store and embarrass me. Not that I’m a kleptomaniac, but these older alarm systems have a way of going off even when you’ve paid for your goods. I don’t think there’s a name for this phobia, but I’m pretty confident I can’t be the only one who has this fear. Anna Hoormann did a lot of research on odd phobias and compiled some interesting ones here that I didn’t even know existed.
The Essential Photo Gear Used by Anna Hoormann
Anna told us:
- Canon 1200D
- Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ71
The Phoblographer: Please tell us about yourself and how you got into photography.
Anna Hoormann: My name’s Anna; I’m 22 years old, born, raised and living in wonderful Hamburg, Germany. Currently, I’m studying communication design, but I’ll graduate next year in the fall, so this will be my last month as a student! The first time I got into photography was when my stepfather surprised me with a digital camera. I was 13, I guess, and it was a lot of fun, and I started experimenting. It was not the best camera, but in the beginning, it was pretty awesome. After watching some YouTube videos, I started using this camera for videos. Kinda like a video diary. I was collecting snippets of my life and putting everything together in Windows Movie Maker (such a horrible tool).
The Phoblographer: What gave you the idea to do this series about phobias? Where did it all start?
Anna Hoormann: So I had to do a midterm exam for my uni; we were completely free and could implement anything we wanted as a topic. And this evening, I was thinking about my best friend, who I know since the seventh grade. She has a pretty serious phobia against pigeons which I didn’t always understand.
Then I remembered that I saw the eighth season of American Horror Story. This season is kinda about many phobias, phobias I’d never heard anything about, like Trypophobia, which is a fear of holes. I got more and more fascinated by the whole topic, so I told my professor about it, and she said that it would be such a great idea and that she was curious about my final result.
The Phoblographer: How long did the project take to complete? How complex or not was it to do?
Anna Hoormann: The time I had to finish this work was three months, and I needed two months. It should also have something enlightening about it, so it was pretty much research. It was not that complex to take the pictures; it was more complex to find the motives and “build” the artist book.
The Phoblographer: Why black and white for these phobia images when we still fear things that are colorful in real life?
Anna Hoormann: In my opinion, black and white is more focused on everything. Colors can be distracting sometimes, and I wanted people who look at these pictures to focus on the texture and detail.
For some shots I used a Canon 1200D with the EF-S 18 – 55mm lens (it’s just the basic lens that came together with the camera), a great camera for beginners, I bought it second hand which is mostly a great idea for students. This camera is very user-friendly and you don’t need too much time to understand this camera with all the settings. I think this camera is also good for night time shots.
The Phoblographer: Putting together a list like this couldn’t be straightforward. Tell us how you narrowed down the list to these? Which phobias were shortlisted but didn’t make the final cut?
Anna Hoormann: Research, a lot of research. I wanted to know what kind of phobias there are or what people are afraid of and why! And I found so many “bizarre” phobias, there was often the moment I thought “, Wow, some people are really scared by…”
Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, is a very common phobia that I have too, but I decided not to include it in this project, maybe because of my phobia or/and it was too simple for me.
The Phoblographer: What was the reaction from those around you when you began this series?
Anna Hoormann: It was kinda funny, and it made interesting conversations because everyone I was talking to about this project was thinking about phobias. Like, “Maybe I have this phobia someday, too, or I already have it?”
The Phoblographer: Among the ones you photographed for this series, which was the creepiest / spookiest to photograph?
Anna Hoormann: The flame shot! I hate fire so much. But how I took the photo was a bit ridiculous, my boyfriend had to light some A4 sheets and put them in a saucepan, but it’s one of my favorites!
The Phoblographer: Personally for you, what would you say is your top (irrational) phobia? Do any in the list resonate with you?
Anna Hoormann: I have a fear of spiders, of depth and drowning, but I can’t explain it; it’s called bathophobia! Just the thought about depth tightens my breath.
The second camera I used is a digital camera, which is small, fast and with an awesome quality. I’m talking about the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ71. I got this camera in 2018 because I was going on a little trip to Seattle and I was looking for a camera which is small but which has a lot of different settings. This camera is really great and I really enjoy making videos with it, because it’s so simple but you can’t see it, if it makes sense. In my opinion it’s never wrong to have a handy digital camera.
The Phoblographer: If you could help eradicate one type of phobia from the world using your photography, what would it be and why?
Anna Hoormann: This question is not easy; I guess the phobias of harmless animals like mice/rats/most spiders. These animals don’t want anything from us, and many of us humans are scared by them ( I know because of history, but now we know it better). And we are so much bigger than them, so why are we scared by them?
The Phoblographer: For me it’s turning up to a shoot without a battery or memory card, but in the world of photography, what are you most fearful of?
Anna Hoormann: I can totally agree with this fear, but I’m more scared by a defective memory card. Maybe there are so many beautiful shots on, and then BOOOM, something happened to this memory card, and everything is gone! That’s so annoying and frustrating.
All images by Anna Hoormann. Used with permission. Visit her Instagram and Behance pages to learn more about her work.
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