The Art of Photographing People Being Scared Out of Their Minds

One year ago, the haunted house called Nightmares Fear Factory in Niagara Falls, Canada scored a major marketing win after its candid photographs of horrified guests went viral online. With Halloween 2012 only a week away, Jakob Schiller over at Wired caught up with the house’s marketing director Vee Popat for the inside scoop of how the images are shot:

At one point in the attraction […] the groups come to a spot where they trigger a Nikon D80 camera and flash at the exact moment where they encounter some unknown fright that is so scary it provokes grown men to hide behind their wives and friends to jump into each other’s arms.

The idea for the photos was inspired by photos of people yelling as they ride rollercoasters. Popat says the owner used to actually sit in the haunted house and take the photos himself. Just like amusement parks, attendees at Nightmares can purchase their photos after they’ve recovered from the excitement and the “best of” photos circulate on monitors in the lobby.

In case you missed the viral images last time, here’s a sampling of some of the house’s recent photographs:

Nightmares Fear Factory runs a popular Flickr account where it uploads a “best of” collection to a new set for every month.

People Lose Their Sh*t in Hilarious Haunted House Photos Part Two [Wired]

Image credits: Photographs by Nightmares Fear Factory

  • Reader

    Okay now I’m curious!

  • Dave

    I would love to see a caption contest with these great shots.

  • kaja12

    faked…. i mean can´t you spot faked from real emotions anymore?

  • Jo Holmes

    There is no way that the fear on those faces is faked unless they got some really really good actors in

  • theperfectnose

    What’re they looking at?

  • Mantis

    A car suddenly and loudly crashes through the wall right at you.

  • Atlanta Owner

    The Redneck in the blue striped shirt looks like he’s about to commit a felony on a haunted house employee. lol

  • Ryan Riopel

    I went to this in 2006, they’ve been doing it at least since then. We got a print, the photos are always hilarious

  • Tess

    What is it that’s so scary??

  • photosforus

    He’s going to break his thumb though tucking it in like that.

  • pete n pete

    This seems like an ideal setting to use a Triggertrap – use the sound trigger.

  • pete n pete

    This seems like an ideal setting to use a Triggertrap – use the sound trigger.

  • Gregor

    You guys must be blind, those are actually paintings! Can’t you spot paintings from photographs?!

  • Aaron Duncan


  • Stephan Zielinski

    Ha! Ha! It’s funny because obviously, those are woodcuts.

  • cashmere

    That is so funny to there would have to be s thrilling experience I definitely have to be there next year with the fam most definitely.

  • miabellafaith

    I totally thought the same thing. so funny!

  • Joey Duncan

    I see what you are saying, if you go back and look at the other ones from the past, I get the feeling that some of these might be a little off. I don’t mean fake, just more that the people KNEW that the camera was there and over did it on purpose. Some of them not all of them. I worked in a haunted house for 5 years, and GOOD haunted house too, to the point we had to call for paramedics a few times to calm people down. So i know scared pretty well, and just seems like a couple of them “pushed” their expressions a little.

  • Joey Duncan

    Honestly, scaring the living crap out of people is probably the most fun I’ve ever had. I helped with a very well done haunted house for 5 years a long time ago and it was awesome. I would love to do it again. Though you can tell some of the people knew the camera would be there so their expressions are a little over done.

  • ninpou_kobanashi

    I wonder how many people get heart attacks each year in this place (^_^)

  • brandon

    same here, ha!!

  • Dan

    !Talk about split second timing

  • guillertronico

    they are see my dickinson…

  • Tiffany Loria

    Made me out loud laugh cry!

  • Anonymouse

    “Jesus Christ, what an asshole” would probably win.

  • Donnie Morissette

    Why are all these people doing the conga??

  • Bill

    I don’t get it. They know it’s all phony. Why the fright?