I don’t have any post-mortem photos in my family collection, but I do have a few that come close.
I have no idea who this character is, yet he has a place in the scheme of things, and a story that that was lost the moment he floated free from the memories of those who knew him. His sad anonymity leaves him stranded in a forgotten frame. He has travelled, through a lens and into limbo.
What can we judge from a face, or a pose? Well, the truth is, he can be whatever we want him to be. A kindly uncle, a scheming businessman, a sworn bachelor caught out in his Sunday suit.
How about the setting? Inside a marquee, a funeral parlour, at the site of a grizzly crime, perhaps? A police inspector frozen with a flash for the daily papers?
For me, the great fascination resides in the fact that he had a voice, a laugh. He would have shed tears, of joy and sorrow. He breathed the air, and in quiet moments, possibly before sleep, he would have been conscious of his heartbeat and all the realities that particular awareness brings. Later, he would have dreams, a flood of dramatic episodes and peaceful sensations that would help him imagine what might be, in his waking hours.
But today he can be regarded as dead. Dead, but for this photograph where he relives a brief moment, each time we look upon his image. A photograph that captured an expression, his dimensions and proportions, half a thought, the spark of an idea, a secret, the beginning of a smile, a single heartbeat.