These Photos Will Make You Anxious

Curators’ Corner

These Photos Will Make You Anxious

Anxiety is a terrible emotion to feel. Whether it’s anxiety from low phone battery or an all-out panic attack about a big project at work, a sense of dread can be overcoming. But what about when the circumstances aren’t dire? What if there’s nothing truly at stake? Surely you’ve had a time when you looked at a photograph and felt a sense of uneasiness. Maybe it was one of someone standing on a cliff, or perhaps a big, spinach-toothed smile at a corporate party.

Photographer Aaron Tilley and art director Kyle Bean show the lighter side of anxiety with their photo project, In Anxious Anticipation.


Through images that capture objects in motion—a rock that flies like a pendulum across the page…eggs barreling down a chute aimed at a slab of marble…—the duo creates moments of helplessness that can be felt through the 2-D pixels sitting harmlessly on the pages of lifestyle magazine, Kinfolk.


“Whether we’re readying ourselves for the start of an event or just imagining ourselves partaking in it, the buzz of nervous anticipation is sometimes as satisfying as the reward at the end,” writes Kinfolk’s Jordan Kushins, who came up with the concept. “Often just the thought of ‘what if?’ can be as potent as the act itself, and the thrill of the chase may occasionally be more powerful than the real deal.”

To simulate the stressors present in every day life, the creative team pieced together photos that represent a range of emotions, from career pressure, to the inability to fully relax (even when a stiff drink is involved).


“I constructed a series of setups using a variety of materials and props that evoke a feeling of apprehension,” Bean writes.

In each image, momentum is omnipresent and viewers are left with the overwhelming feeling of alarm.


Aside from this being a fun series, we love the colorful yet bleak style of the images themselves. Best of all, none of these things happening are truly that bad.