Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Interview with Photographer Paula Burr

A lifelong fascination with stopping time and telling a story in just one image has begun to pay off for photographer Paula Burr, who founded Killer Eye Photography. A 2007 graduate of the prestigious Brooks Institute, Paula interned in Manhattan with renowned image-maker Mark Seliger.

In the two and a half years since, she has contributed her style and focus to numerous print and online work. She has recreated the infamous shower scene of Psycho for Tim Sullivan (2001 Maniacs, Driftwood) and been head still photographer for Anthony DiBlasi’s cinematic adaptation of Clive Barker’s Dread.

Paula’s work was most recently published in new issues of The Burlesque Times, the UK fashion magazine Milk Cow, and in all the advertising for The International Horror and Sci Fi Film Fest 2009. Recent websites featuring her work include, Bloody-Disgusting, and Dread Central, Fatally-Yours. Other endeavors include artistic and abstract stills for Adam Barnick’s upcoming documentary What is Scary? (2011) as well as lighting and videographer work for the upcoming DVD extras for Adam Green’s thriller Frozen.

While favoring the macabre and culture underground, Killer Eye Photography has expanded its passions to everything from weddings to headshots to travel photography, Paula remains committed to finding those images that will stick with you for a lifetime.

Fatally Yours: How did you fall in love with the horror genre? 

Paula Burr: I think I fell in love with the idea of horror before I realized that it was a genre. The feeling as a kid while watching scary movies: A monster lurking outside your window, someone watching you, zombies walking the streets, the unknown. I love all the elements that “horror” brings. I also love the idea that a scary movie can be funny.

Fatally Yours: What does horror mean to you? 

Paula Burr: There are so many ways horror has crept into my own life. For me horror means creating an image that makes people think what the hell is she doing, Or pushing an idea to the edge. I have a deep love for horror because I feel that horror reaches people on a personal level. If I am able to leave an imprint on someone from my imagery, good or bad, if I am able to provoke a feeling I have done my job.

Fatally Yours: How and when did you get involved in the horror genre?

Paula Burr: Being a photographer, I have met many creative, wonderful people. I guess about 2005 is when I really tried to sink my teeth into the genre. I started doing interviews for a horror website and eventually just started talking with people. That led me to conventions and photographing people in the horror world. I eventually met a man by the name of Spooky Dan. We ended up hanging out at Comic Con one year and its all history after that. I owe Dan so much respect, credit and thanks for helping me out and making me put myself out there in the world. He would always tell me “I can introduce you but it’s up to you to do the rest.”

Fatally Yours: What is one thing you’ve done within the horror genre that you are most proud of?

Paula Burr: Working on Dread was an amazing time in my life. The first time I met Clive Barker, I handed him a business card and told him that one-day I hoped to work together. Working with Anthony DiBlasi on Dread was pretty close. Being able to go to eat, sleep, and breathe horror was just life changing. Shooting stills on a film is what I love to do, and then to be able to work with such an amazing crew on Dread was just a dream come true. Not to mention the crew was a giant family so it made it that much more enchanting.

Fatally Yours: How would you convince people who aren’t horror fans to give the genre a try?

Paula Burr: I really believe that there is something for everyone out there in the genre. You can nail down a list to a specific “taste of horror” per individual. You don’t have to watch something that is all blood and guts if you’re not into it. I think that horror films give the audience something to chew on, whether it be a Romero film that is talking about current social trends to a psychological thriller, I’m a believer that you are missing out on a good time if you don’t go see a scary movie in the theater.

Fatally Yours: Do you feel women in horror get the proper recognition when compared to their male counterparts?

Paula Burr: Yes, I do. When I think of the final battle in movies, I mean its great to see men just smearing each other over the pavement, but when a woman is kicking ass there is just that added sassy finesse. I think there is always room for women to show the ability that they are just as good as the male counterpart and sometimes look better doing it.

Fatally Yours: As a woman in horror, have you found it harder to be taken seriously in a genre that seems to be dominated by males? 

Paula Burr: Mostly I think I am taken pretty seriously. My tattoos probably help that a little bit. When someone looks at me and asks me about horror and sees my Frankenstein or Bates Motel sign, they seem to automatically think I’m into it.  Even though the genre seems dominated by males, I don’t use that as a reason to deter me from getting what I came for. I’m a very determined individual and if being a woman puts me into a situation for being the underdog, I try that much harder. I think any woman who has a strong enough character and the ability to adjust to get the job done can make it and be taken seriously. I really am a firm believer in standing on your own; maybe I don’t have balls, but I do have backbone.

Fatally Yours: Since you’ve been involved with the horror genre, have you noticed a change in women’s roles within horror whether it be roles in horror films, women behind the camera, women writers, etc.?

Paula Burr: I think there have been more women getting involved with the genre. Scream queens, actresses and women ready to get down and dirty for the part. Whether it be in front or behind the lens I know that I have been introduced to a lot more ladies wanting to “play dead” since I started shooting. Also I have been searching for it longer. The more I dig for models and such, the more I find a larger variety of women who are into the genre.

Fatally Yours: What women in horror do you admire? 

Paula Burr: I had to think on this one. First there are so many woman that I am probably forgetting at the moment, and most that come to mind straight away are in front of the lens. I think Kathryn Bigelow is amazing. I loved Near Dark and, even though her new film The Hurt Locker is not horror, it’s a great film. Women actresses who have memorable roles for me are: Sigourney Weaver in Alien, Heather Langenkamp in Nightmare On Elm Street, Sissy Spacek in Carrie, Angela Bettis in May. There really are so many that I could name.

Fatally Yours: If you could photograph one woman from the horror genre, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Paula Burr: Barbara Steele, Cassandra Peterson. I would love to have Elvira in my portfolio. She’s just amazing. Barbara I would want to photograph coming out of a coffin just because she has been quoted as saying she never wants to climb out of a coffin again.

Fatally Yours: What inspires, influences and motivates you?

Paula Burr: My friends, people and the process of creating something new inspire me. I’m always talking to others about similar ideas and endeavors, witnessing them go out there and giving it everything they got inspires me to keep pushing. I have a Grace poster hanging up in my room that was signed: “Don’t fucking give up.” I look at that everyday. That’s great motivation. You have to fight for the things you love. Watching my friends work their asses off and get it done is amazing.

Fatally Yours: What are your favorite horror films and books?

Paula Burr: Oh man, so many. I read some King, Clive, William Gibson. But I find myself reading vampire books and yes I read and liked the Twilight series. As for Horror films: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Videodrome, and Repulsion come first to mind.

Fatally Yours: Outside of horror what do you enjoy doing?

Paula Burr: I photograph pin-up, macabre ideas for fun, so when I’m not swimming in horror I am probably working on a creative project. There are so many things really. I love to snowboard and take my dog hiking. Watching movies, watching bad movies with great people.

Fatally Yours: What are your goals for yourself within the horror genre?

Paula Burr: I would love to be the go to photography gal. The horror genre is so much fun, I would like to be able to photograph all that I can. From film stills to portraits, promo pieces for film, movie poster creation. Shooting the characters of movies is kind of like directing my own mini-film, one frame at a time.

Fatally Yours: Where can people find more info on you?

Paula Burr: You can reach me at New website is launching soon so stay tuned!

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