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What Magic We See: Wurmwood Photography

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Though it features fantastical scenes, the work of Wurmwood Photography is neither dreamy nor soft. If anything, the hard edges of their subjects, the bright colors and the often heavy contrast make the mysticism depicted seem hyperrealistic. Wurmwood Photography’s Jessica Hess depicts what magic would look like if it were happening on this very earth, at this very moment, and before your very eyes.

Photo copyright Wurmwood Photography

Seemingly based in a world of carnival mayhem, outcasts, and unearthly heartbreakers, the photographic subjects often exude an air of outlandish beauty and playful rebellious sass. They wear knotted robes around their bodies, face paint that glows and drips, and severe makeup across their lips and eyes. The subjects in these photos seem to be mid-action, caught in a moment of self-realization or infinite power.

Photo copyright Wurmwood Photography

All of Jessica’s work feels as though it is deeply personal to the subject depicted. At times they are simply looking into the lens of the camera, the sharp lines of their human form shouting, “This is me right here, looking at you. This is me and only me that you are seeing,” while other portraits portray specific elements of the subjects’ personalities or characters they have designed.  There is so much passion behind these images from both photographer and client. Jessica explains on her website, “I’m always willing to go the extra mile to make a good portrait, even if that means lighting something on fire.”

Photo copyright Wurmwood Photography

It is this willingness to experiment, to play with the elements at hand and the human form, that creates these daring scenes.

Photo copyright Wurmwood Photography

Jessica truly creates work of all calibers, from beautifully shot portraiture work to moments in time that appear to tell a story. Much of her work is deeply rooted in Southern Gothic culture, depicting places rundown and abandoned or seemingly untouched natural backdrops. Her more mystical work appears as though the subject is a character from some other world who has been dropped in ours – who is for the first time made of flesh and blood and other earthly elements.

Photo copyright Wurmwood Photography

There is something so natural about Jessica’s pieces, something so clean and sharp that it begs the questions – if magic took place all around us, is this what it would look like? If your neighbor was abducted by aliens, is this the scene you would be met with? If there was a monster in your midst would it look, first and foremost, like a human being?

Photo copyright Wurmwood Photography

Currently, Wurmwood Photography is working on a highly collaborative 78 card tarot deck. If you are a visual artist, a model, or a designer, click here to learn more about this project. For all other inquiries and a full portfolio, check out their website here.

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About The Author

Liah Paterson is a Queens-based freelance illustrator. She spends her days polishing up her knowledge of occult objects, destroying canvases, and trying to coax her cats into liking her. Her apartment is filled with piles of books, sculptures, and paintings of disembodied hands, and a partner who plays scary video games for her so she can watch them like movies. Find her on Instagram (@atenderwitch) or on her website (

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