photo friday: black & white

Posted by on June 8, 2012

I rarely, if ever, take photos in black and white, and so this week’s theme was an interesting assignment for me. Immediately, I thought of the film grain mode on my camera, and how it makes the world look like an Alfred Hitchcock film. I also happen to be reading Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, so while I was walking around the neighborhood trying to frame things with an eye to the melancholic, I was musing on the mood of that novel and thinking about how much I like going to that place– that melancholic, gothic place– in my imagination. I tend to forget about this side of myself, so it is nice to remember it again, and it provides a very refreshing foil to just about everything that my life consists of right now.

I am almost ashamed to admit that this is my first time reading Wuthering Heights. I read Jane Eyre in high school and it remains among my favorite stories of all time, but for some reason I formed an assumption–a prejudice, really– that Heights would be too sappy and sentimental for my taste. Of course I realize now how baseless and indefensible this assumption was, but to be fair, it may have been acquired subconsciously on the basis of DVD packaging. All of the movie versions of this book look to me like harlequin romance paperbacks (but of course, this is also an assumption as I’ve never seen the movie versions either). I am pretty sure that I have memories of girlfriends saying, with a sort of wistful sigh, “Ah, Heathcliff.”

But happily, I had it all wrong. The story is tough-minded, gritty, haunting, and unsentimental. And although it does seem strange I find that it is perfectly creditable to aschew a gorgeous summer day, and, while reclined on the sofa in a shadowy living room (for as long my three year-old’s nap will permit), to be transported to the English moors by a Bronte sister.

So these photos are a nod to all things gothic, melancholic, autumn, stormy, chilly, spooky, secret, mysterious, dramatic, Bronte, and romantic-but-not-sappy. Everyone needs a little dollop of these things on their plate once and a while, even, or maybe especially, in the summertime.

Photo Friday

  1. A M B E R
    June 8, 2012

    Ah, Wuthering Heights. The Gothic Trailer Trash novel. I read it first in a very upstanding cloth cover volume than I snuck off my parent's shelves after I read that it wasn't recommended reading for young girls (probably a comment written in some book more than 50 years ago). My mother didn't seem to think I needed to sneak it, either. I am glad you are finally reading it, Jules. The book always made me feel profoundly grateful for the ways in which my family was not that dysfunctional.

    And you captured the theme well in your photos–Not open to the public.

    I think I might use that film grain setting more often.

  2. Molly Sabourin
    June 8, 2012

    I've never read it either, and you've done a bang-up job here of making me regret that. Oh, you are so missed at book club! Your photos are indeed quite Alfred Hitchock-ish, Julia! I love how your images always seem to tell a story. It was treat visiting your blog this afternoon, as always.

  3. Mark Janssen
    June 8, 2012

    50 years ago, in my senior year at Don Bosco Technical High School ( all male, Catholic, Southern California) we read Wuthering Heights. All I remember is anxiety, especially an anxiety filled scene on a foggy moor. Yes, I remember the anxiety well. The NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC photo plays with anxiety too.

  4. Manuela
    June 10, 2012

    I think that's exactly why I love black and white photography, the Alfred Hitchock film quality.
    Reading your thoughts makes me actually more aware of why I choose black and white so often.
    I think all of these images could be scenes in a movie. I especially love the first one.

  5. Evelina
    June 12, 2012

    Yes, I've just read Wuthering Heights, I hadn't read it before and I was inspired to read it by the discussion here. It's catchy and funny. But I couldn't fall in love with Heathcliff :)).