The Charm of the Morbid

The Charm of the Morbid

For years I have been wondering what attraction the morbid, the decay has on me. It is a fact that there are places of longing that are incredibly suitable as locations for photo shoots. But why are rotten places so appealing? Where does this attraction come from?


It is definitely something that is very individual. And I wasn't sure if others felt the same way I did. But many people collect vintage cars, although there are technically better vehicles available nowadays. So there must be something about this fascination for the past, in all of us.

We combine influences from our youth with certain things from the past. These can be old computer games that were top of the notch in our childhood. Or great cars that already impressed your father. Or majestic architecture that tells of a splendid time. All things have one thing in common: They trigger emotions in us and we have these deeply anchored in our brain.


To re-awaken emotions means to return to places of longing. Remembering is a special skill. And the best thing is that we can differentiate between good and bad memories. Of course I want to remember the good things in my work. Things that shaped us in childhood. Or just moments we shared together.

When I say roller skating, it will bring back positive memories for many in my age group. But younger people cannot relate to this. They don't have the experience of roller skating with their friends on a street in front of their home. And so it is important to find aesthetic things that we can all somehow understand.

Vacation is such a topic. Summer, sun and sunshine. The ice cream commercial Like ice in the sunshine. Or the bacardi feeling. Those few words, immediately take us back to amazing visuals.

Benidrom panorama

In my childhood, Spain was, along with Italy, the ultimate summer destination for Germans. Funnily enough, my own summer vacation never went there. Way too hot. But Spain has one thing for itself: in many places time seems to have stood still. And they still exist. The places that take you back to a long forgotten time. A time when the world still seemed to be alright. These are places of longing, like Benidorm.

When I saw a report about Spain and suddenly Benidorm appeared, I couldn't believe it. What's this? The Copacabana of Spain? A city with the highest density of high-rise buildings in Europe in terms of population. Are you crazy? Building skyscrapers right on the beach? This is unbelievable. From today's perspective, downright sick.

Good feelings...
... bad feelings

That arouses emotions and causes an incredible attraction. And so, when I went on a trip to Benidorm for my book Sublime, it deeply impressed me and one day I will travel there again. Maybe you can feel this, too, when looking at the brutal architecture in such a sunny part of the world.

Regarding the morbid charm, it has to have a certain aesthetic to work for my photos. Just being old is not enough. That's why I don't take photos in so-called lost places, for example. Places that are only offering a Chernobyl look, for example a deserted hospital, give me too much horror. Contrast is good, but for me this makes me only want to run away and I cannot think of erotic adventures.

Places with morbid charm are no longer easy to find. Architecture from the 70s and 80s, old cars, old accessories. Sins and bad taste. Funnily, we always believe that we can do better today, which is of course totally absurd. Nevertheless, we like to look back, e.g. in fashion. We let ourselves be inspired and excited by this cycle of life. It's a common thing to copy and refresh things from the past. Probably, because of all the above I wrote.

And that's why I'll keep looking for such places from the past, in order to photograph soulful series there. And indulge in the morbid charm.

It feels good to have thought about why the morbid charm feels so appealing. I was never really aware of where the feeling came from. Now, I only wonder if such feelings are common, I mean, if many of us have similar feelings on this topic. Do you feel the morbid charm as well?