Last week, I mentioned that my sister was taking a road trip that would bring her to Little Big Horn, among other places, and that she will be taking pictures to see if she captures anything eerie in them, since the battlefield is consistently listed as one of the most haunted places in America.
That got me thinking about scary pictures in general. Sure, the photos that include unexplained orbs of light, shadows, transparent figures and the like are scary. They really are. But there is another kind.
Who out there doesn't really enjoy being in a room with pictures that date back to, oh, the 1800's or so? Raise your hands! I'd be jumping up and down with both arms waving. I have eaten in restaurants that insist on decorating with photographs of people who sat down before a camera maybe some time in 1866. Somewhere around there. They are usually family portraits, where everyone, including the baby in someone's lap, is downright somber. Their clothing is somber. Their body language is somber. And their eyes? Wow, I don't even want to think about that at the moment.
It's not so much the realization that everyone in that photograph is now dead and has been for years and years, although that definitely adds to the uneasiness I feel. I can't really explain it, except to say that I sometimes get that same uncomfortable sensation when I'm in an antique store. Sometimes even in museums. There's something truly eerie about gazing on the faces or possessions of people who are long gone. It's almost as if, well, maybe they're really not completely gone. Like something about them is still reaching out to touch the present. Or touch me.
The idea of all those serious folks in their Sunday best, probably six feet under in one cemetery or another, could be reaching out to touch me? That is the sort of thing that gives me the willies.
The TV show Supernatural got it right when they addressed the idea of a family photograph from the early 1900's having the spirit of a long-dead serial killer attached to it, a spirit that found a way to continue its favorite past-time.
I know people who collect old pictures. I think that's about as attractive as collecting porcelain dolls (yikes!) and clowns of any kind (ditto!). I don't like insects all that much and I'm not happy when rodents leave their little collections of debris in my pantry from time to time, but at least I know what I'm up against. When it comes to those old photos? Who knows?