The Photographic Journal

Heavenly Hosts and Dastardly Ghosts

Essay 364 • Jan 14th 2019

Creating has always been a way for me to understand myself and the world around me. I find that I’m drawn to very specific symbols, colors, and characters, but it’s often not until after I’ve made the work and have a healthy distance from it that I can clearly understand why I made it in the manner I did (and honestly, sometimes that epiphany never comes). These images were created as part of a humorous and handmade set design project- the characters were secondary in my mind to the worlds that I was building. When I showed the final body of work, a professor pointed out that it had appeared that I had created tableaux of heaven and hell.

When she said this something clicked into place for me. I assumed that the work was just a result of me playing around and exploring fantasy sets and characters, and maybe it was, but this comment opened the door to more possibilities- why am I drawn to poking fun at religious motifs, and the binary choice of heaven or hell in this case? Why was it important to me to depict God as a soft, feminine character in a lush environment? Why did I settle on an image of the Devil taking a selfie and not something more sinister?

I think there are a lot of potential answers to these questions- most involving a combination of my religious upbringing, my queer identity, and my tendency to cope via laughter- but the beauty of making this work for me was that it organically encouraged me to question myself, play, and realize that what I create when I’m clowning around in the studio can often be more poignant than I realize at the time.


Savana Ogburn is a photographer, collage artist, and set designer based in Atlanta, Georgia. Femininity, camp, and queerness are frequently explored in Savana’s work through the use of bright colors and textures. Her goal is to tell the most wacky and surreal stories possible.
Website | Instagram

Model: Graham Bohling
Makeup Artist: Video Tronic
Stylist: Brandon Johnson