I have mentioned, from time-to-time in this blog, that I'm a good photographer with a strong "eye." It's not terribly rare to have this gift--a friend of mine, currently living in a small town in Mexico, also has it. It seems to be something you are born with, like psychic ability. And like psychic ability, I would guess it is a talent developed in previous lifetimes.
I am sort of like the fellow in the 19th century who was taken around for demonstration purposes. He had an open flap in his stomach, so that the lecturer could drop, say, a steak in it and observe how it digested. In this case, I know I have this natural talent, and the question now becomes, is there any evidence that Mathew Franklin Whittier, myself in that century, had any particular interest, or even experience, in photography? Here we have a talent which could only have been developed since photography became available, around 1840.
I have no evidence that he ever tried his hand at it, although he could have in later life. I do, however, have abundant evidence that he had a strong interest in it, as well as a keen aesthetic appreciation of artwork--that is, if we take him to have been the author of the travelogue signed "Quails" in the Boston "Weekly Museum," 1849-1852. I have already explained that this series was--and still is--erroneously claimed for an entertainer named Ossian Dodge, but that I have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Mathew was the real, and hidden, author.
"Quails" visits daguerreotype studios, and enthusiastically remarks on the sample galleries therein. So much so, that when he visits the studio of Samuel Masury, and admires the "Ultima Thule" portrait of Edgar Allan Poe, Masury sends him a copy. But that's another line of research, covered in my book.
And when he visits Paris, he becomes good friends with journalist and photographer Ernest Lacan. Lacan pioneered one (or was it two?) art photography journals, shortly after meeting Mathew in 1851. (I am not saying which man influenced the other, just reporting the dates.) Mathew also frequently praises drawing, painting and sculpture which especially impresses him, as I have mentioned in a recent entry, regarding the "Elysian Fields." So we know that he had the interest, and the capacity to appreciate good photography.
I suspect that I had a lifetime between Mathew's and my own as a writer/reporter/photographer, but have not been able to identify it. She may have met Edward Weston and Ansel Adams on the West Coast. If I am correct in this speculation, I could have further developed Mathew's interest and skills in that lifetime.
In this life, it was instantaneous. I picked up an Instamatic at a garage sale, and started seeing. I have shared an image from my second roll of film, and won't post that, again. But day-before-yesterday, I made my second visit to Two Light Park on the nearby coast of Maine. This time, I stepped back into my serious pastime as an amateur photographer. I got three images I think are pretty strong, and I'm going to close by sharing them, here.
Incidentally, art appreciation may be subjective to some degree, but this is objective evidence of past-life talents, which was one indicator cited by Dr. Ian Stevenson in his cases. Unfortunately, the irony, in this case, is that it may require that the reader also have a strong photographic "eye," in order to discern the quality of these samples from any ordinary photography. If in doubt, you can ask an unbiased professional or serious amateur photographer his or her opinion, and I think you will be told that these are above-average. I don't claim that this is my best work, but for an afternoon's outing, I think I hit a level of excellence with them that I'm pleased with.
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Audio opening this page: "Soapstone Mountain," by It's a Beautiful Day
from the album, "Marrying Maiden"