Chris Anthony, a newly-established master of dark photographic storytelling, was awarded the Grand Prize in American Photo’s Images of the Year Competition for this his “Victims & Avengers” series, a profound and ghostly narrative about domestic violence. Produced using a 4 x 5 camera and Photoshop in his Los-Angeles studio, these musty panoramas with their carefully placed color choices amongst sepia tones and muted browns take you into a fairy-tale world that is surreal, magic and melancholy.
"Basically these pictures deal with domestic violence," Anthony explains. He imagines that the women and children in his images have endured the abuse for a long time. What his scenes depict, he says, is "the final straw. They've taken vengeance and have murdered their husbands or fathers." In depicting the aftermath of revenge, Anthony chooses to portray the "moment of release, like the calm after the storm."
The subject matter hits close to home for Anthony. Domestic violence "is something I grew up with," he says. "I saw it and heard it as a little kid. It's been with me all my life—The uncomfortable and horrific situations that you're in as a victim or a witness." The 19 images in this series are fictitious, but there's a palpable reality bolstering the invented settings. "I suppose it's cathartic, or perhaps it's some form of therapy, but it was something I felt strongly about. I chose to put it in this entirely different world, and in doing so, distance myself from it." Though his images suggest a bygone era, it's the photographer's experience that gives the characters, props, and even the empty spaces in his images their charged quality.