Where Do Photographs Go After Death?

Self-Portrait by French Artist Hippolyte Bayard

Terry Pitts writes, “Almost from the moment its invention was made public in 1839, photography embraced death. I immediately think of French artist Hippolyte Bayard who, in 1840, famously made a self-portrait as a drowned man. Nineteenth century commercial photographers quickly discovered there was a business to be had making portraits of the newly deceased – usually posed to look as if they were sleeping. Not surprisingly, the act of leafing through a photograph album or discovering a cache of family photographs is a staple (more often a cliché) of literature.”

This is the latest post in a blog on literature and book collecting, with an emphasis on W.G. Sebald and novels with embedded photographs.

“I have inherited a double tradition, of silence and bereavement, where the dead, still everywhere present after twenty, thirty, or fifty years, appear only in empty silences, maintaining a violent presence of black holes skirted by speech but thereby made manifest in the movement of a story: blanks in album pages, pictures that look to be perpetually in flames but not completely consumed to the point where their shadow, their odor, have become indiscernible.” – W.G. Sebald

[Via: Sebald.WordPress.com]

Published by Chris Malinao

Chris teaches Lightroom as workflow software to photography students at the FPPF, Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation. He also teaches smartphone photography.