Old tombstones

These 18th – 19th century tombstones are to be found in the back garden of small wooden churches in Transylvania. The grass grows wild. It gradually covers the tombstones, which are now perfectly integrated in the natural landscape.

These church gardens are usually full of flowers, some of them cultivated but most of them wild. You cannot really tell where the cultivated part fades into wilderness. Some other gardens are full of fruit trees. Older trees, with long roots reaching out into the tombs and deeper still. And more recent ones, whose growth over time has pushed them closer and closer to the tombstones. Fallen fruits mingle with wild flowers in this place for the dead and the living.

Transylvania

The place beyond the forests (that’s what the name means) that I’ve discovered as a child and I always returned to.

Apuseni July 2019

Time

Time is perceived differently at different ages. I remember the endless days of my childhood, the agitation of waiting for something that was just a few hours away but seemed to be forever frozen in the future.

Now I cannot make sense of many days before they’re already gone. I just record their passage. It’s like sleep – you go in and out of it and meanwhile time has passed. Only that it’s not sleep, it’s life. It’s what should have been life but has been replaced by schedules, meetings, worries, urgencies, fatigue, anxiety. And some sunshine in between.

How do you convey a sense of time in photography?

Of course, you can show a wrinkled face. The frailty of old age. A building in ruin. An abandoned park. You can put side by side photos of the same scene in different moments of the day or year. You can capture change by working with longer exposures or intentional camera movement. Or, on the contrary, you can freeze movement with short exposures, capturing expressions or gestures that would have been otherwise lost in that micro-fraction of a second.

You can work in black and white, desaturate colors or otherwise manipulate the color space in order to evoke the past. Or you can simply evoke a mood that is closely associated with the passage of time. Nostalgia. Longing. Irreversibility.

The photo above was taken in a small graveyard in Transylvania, close to a wooden church. Despite the somewhat dramatic editing, there was nothing sad or morbid about the scene. It was serene. High grass moved by the wind, nature slowly reclaiming the graves.