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Sleeping Beauty III: Memorial Photography:…
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Sleeping Beauty III: Memorial Photography: The Children (edition 2010)

by Stanley B. Burns

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Member:meggyweg
Title:Sleeping Beauty III: Memorial Photography: The Children
Authors:Stanley B. Burns
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Tags:history, photographs, death

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Sleeping Beauty III: Memorial Photography: The Children by MD Stanley Burns

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Certainly this is a morbid subject and the book is no ray of sunshine, but I found many of the photographs were actually quite touching. Burns also briefly introduces the reader to earlier photographic methods and the industry of memorial photography, which (I was surprised to learn) has experienced a slight revival in the 21st century. He includes some modern memorial photos at the end. I also liked that he had not just photos from the United States but from various locations in Europe as well. ( )
  meggyweg | Nov 25, 2012 |
A lot of people find memorial photography morbid – if you stumble across a Facebook account where death photography is discussed or reproduced, the comments range from an appreciation of the history to people thinking the parents long ago were insane or that the whole thing in general is somehow morally wrong or gross. “Ewww! Why would anyone want to take a picture of a dead person?” As much as I dislike it when people react to these pictures from a strictly modern sensibility or a squeamish quasi-morality, I often have a hard time explaining why it is such images appeal to me. Burns does his best to explain why these images may seem so jarring:

"It is difficult for most of us today to understand the prior culture’s need to take memorial photographs. We no longer live with personal death and dying as part of our everyday lives. By the 1930s, dealing with death had been left to professionals ranging from physicians to morticians. The advance of medicine, control of killer epidemics, the ability to treat disease, and the removal of the sick from the home made us unaccustomed to living with and seeing death. Children dying before parents, something so common in the nineteenth century, has become unusual in the twentieth century."

He goes on:

"Memorial postmortem photographs have deep meaning for mourners. These keepsakes become special icons that help survivors move through the bereavement process. Healthy grieving ultimately distances us from the dead. The human bond, our connection with others, is mankind’s strongest guiding emotion and thus influences our fears and actions. These images represent confrontation with our loved one’s mortality and our own."

I would like to think this fear of death that these images can provoke is behind the “Yuck!” reactions people sometimes express.

You can read my entire discussion here: http://ireadoddbooks.com/sleeping-beauty-iii-by-stanley-r-burns-m-d/ ( )
  oddbooks | Jun 18, 2011 |
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