Our newest Film Folk feature series that talks about our obsessions behind the lens.

Gear: Rolleiflex and a Leica M6

1) What is your unique obsession to photograph?

Cemeteries. I love them. 

2) Why? What draws you to it? or what's the history behind why you find yourself obsessed with it.
Whenever I divulge this obsession to someone, they automatically associate it to "obsession with death", "love for darkness or morbidity". 

For me, it is none of those. I love cemeteries because I love culture. I believe nothing else defines a society or culture better than how they honor the lives of their loved ones in death. You can tell a lot about how people channel their emotions with how they, as a community, design their cemeteries. I find it very unique and very telling.

I also find it romantic. The melancholy that eventually takes over an especially old cemetery. Where marble and stone are finally taken over by Nature, they all become a harmonious balance. Walking through the silence is so peaceful... the smell of grass, the texture of moss, the coldness of the soil, and the hovering trees. There IS a calmness that sets in and it reminds you of your mortality. Somehow, I always end up being enthusiastic about tomorrow whenever I visit a cemetery. 

I find it poetic. Because here you have a space where the summary of someone's myth or legend is presented in stone, and together, a collective history of a generation or two. The stories told or untold are so fascinating. Who were they? How were they as people? 

And finally, I find it artistic. Nature will ALWAYS win. The natural abandon and how beautifully deliberate nature is. There is a sense of amazement, bewilderment, unease, freakishness, and comfort. I remember I went exploring in this extremely old cemetery and found a clearing. The first time I stepped into a thick carpet of moss, you will never forget the aroma of rain on moss..... or the sense of being watched & judged by an unknown force... because you know you don't belong there. 

3) Any favorite cemeteries?
I have a lot on my bucket list. But so far, those that really stuck with me are Highgate Cemetery in London, Koyasan in Japan, The Catacombs of Paris, Greyfriar's Cemetery of Edinburgh, Whitney Abbey Cemetery, and of course, Auschwitz in Warsaw. 
Brompton Cemetery
Catacombs in Paris
Greyfriar's Cemetery of Edinburgh
Highgate Cemetery in London
Koyasan in Japan

Tip: famous cemeteries always have amazing stories to tell. Whether you're into the paranormal or just into great storytelling, join the local tours that they offer. You learn so much about histories, way of life, gossips, old wives tales, social norms and things you just don't get from books. You walk away knowing more about a city and its people if you understand their folklores. 

But most importantly, remember where you are and respect the place. When I go by myself, I usually buy a bouquet of flowers and lay it on someone's resting place. Usually a child gone too soon. 

4) Do you show this work to people? How do they generally react?

As I said, ahahahha, they always answer with a "Whuuuttt" or "Why" or "Eww". It makes for an uncomfortable subject. Death always strikes fear and unease. But I do show my shots. And I love it when people start to understand why. I have friends from different cities now, and when I visit, they KNOW they have to take me to the cemetery or the public library. I'm a special kind of tourist ahahahah.

5) What sort of satisfaction do you get in nailing the perfect shot?
The sense of contentment in giving the place some justice..... but I never do. You always have this sense of panic to bottle up the place's beauty. To try your hardest to preserve all the sights, sounds, scents.... But in the end, when I develop a roll of film and find just one single shot that represents my visit, I am content.
5) What advice can you give anyone who finds themselves uninspired in photography?

Just shoot what calls out to you. Never do it to impress anyone. Shoot because you love taking photos. Shoot because it is personally fulfilling. You are stuck because you wait for inspiration. Don't.

When travelling far or in your suburb.... grab a camera, talk to the bartender, a local person, a roaming cop, the bus driver, the waitress... ask them about cool spots. You will find yourself in the greatest adventures just because you asked. 

OBSESSION is a new blog series of Film Folk that features what fills up canisters and canisters of film from various film shooters and enthusiasts.

What to be featured? Shoot us an e-mail at filmfolk@satchmi.com with the subject "I AM OBSESSED WITH ___________"

Follow Ais on Instagram @aisslinnn

A post shared by Aislinn (@aisslinnn) on

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published