Yesterday, I finished reading a wonderful book, Seeking Parmentor; A Memoir of Place by Charles Butterfield. Highly recommended!
In this book Charles mentions that Amos Parmentor is buried in the Antrim Centor* cemetery. This inspired me to make a visit to the cemetery and the nearby Lily Pond which features prominently in the book.
The Parmentor grave sites were in a deeply shaded part of the burying ground and thus I did not make any photographs of them. I did, however, find and photograph a number of other nineteenth century headstones in”interesting” light.
The first two photographs below speak to a couple of interesting “philosophical” issues in photography.
The first of these is the idea that photography is, in one critical way, fundamentally different from other art forms. In making a photograph, an artist must consciously decide what to exclude (either by the original framing of a scene in the viewfinder or by cropping later) from his or her artwork. In making all other artwork, the artist must decide what to include in their artwork.
The second issue is that of “truth”. It is often suggested that somehow a photograph shows a “true story”. Of course, in this age of “photoshopping”, this idea
has begun to crumble lies in a heap of shards.
However, if you think about the first issue, i.e. that photographers must consciously decide what to include in the frame (and therefore also what to exclude), one realizes that the truth in a photograph is highly subjective and it has always been that way.
The first photograph below shows a pair of gravestones, that of Artamus Brown (who died in 1875 at the age of 73 ys, 4 ms) and Rhoda, his wife (who died in 1813 at the age of 33; one could make an educated guess that childbirth might have been involved in her demise). This photo suggests a tidy story.
However, if one takes a step back and includes one more, adjacent gravestone, that of Almira, [also] wife of Artamus Brown (who died in 1897 at the age of 81 ys, 4 ms), one sees a more complete (“truer”?) story of Artamus’ life.
I am fascinated by an implied story in the second photograph. Notice how Almira’s headstone is not aligned with the other two; it is set back from the other pair. Furthermore the gap between Artamus’ and Almira’s stones is larger than that between Artamus’ and Rhoda’s. What story does this spacing of gravestones tell? Am I “reading” too much in to this story? I doubt that we’ll ever know!
* This is the nineteenth century spelling.