Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ghost Stories

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I have long had a soft spot for things that are old and connected to the past. I have spent a good number of hours at flea markets and browsing so-called “antique” stores (meaning old stuff, not nearly all of which is necessarily precious or valuable and much of which no longer works or is noticeably scarred or damaged). In fact, much of what decorates our home consists of such borrowed memories. Recently, a post at Doug Stockdale’s Singular Images got me thinking about my penchant for nostalgia.

Specifically, I realized that I really do believe in ghosts. Thinking about ghosts this afternoon is, of course, an interesting coincidence, since Halloween is just a few days away. However, I’m not talking about ghosts that lurk in the attic and scare us in the middle of the night. I’m not talking about the Casper type of ghost or the ghouls that populate those scary Hollywood movies designed to give you nightmares.
I am thinking about the ghosts who drift about in places where they once lived, worked, and sometimes played. These spirits aren’t threatening and they don’t do evil things. But, the voices of those spirits do get inside my head. They make we wonder about their lives, their loves and losses, their triumphs and defeats, their struggles and where they found the courage and strength to continue. The buildings they built, the tools they worked with, and their means of transportation fascinate me. This certainly explains why one of my greatest passions is photographing old abandoned buildings, vehicles, and various belongings. Looking through the viewfinder and viewing the pictures later, I feel the reverberations of the people who lived with those things and I am stirred by that sense of connection with those who came before me.
There seems to be so much about contemporary life that serves to detach us from our reality. In what is perhaps a peculiar sense, the connection with the past helps to ground me in the present. Our lives go by so quickly and our footprints disappear so quickly. But, perhaps something of our spirit does linger. The ghostly voices of the people whose things I am photographing or holding in my hand remind me of my humanity and serve to keep me both humble and grateful. Yet, they also remind me that I have untapped resources and they challenge me to continue.


  1. Very nice Anita. I was wondering if you worked this a bit more to get some cool close up shots? This door has so much character and the light is so nice. Best wishes.

  2. Unfortunately, I was in the room for only a short time. For one thing, I was with my husband and didn't want to try his patience. He gives me quite a bit of time and space, but sometimes I just have to move on long before I am ready. Another complication in this specific case was limited access to the interior of the house and other park visitors behind our small group.

    At Bodie, I was in photography heaven discovering opportunities every couple of feet. One could easily turn the setting into a project to fill an entire summer! While I am not apt to face those particular travel challenges, I do hope to get back there many times.

    I am delighted that you also found the scene of interest.


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