Generally speaking, you could spit in any direction and hit someone who claims to have seen a ghost. No shortage of those stories but there are some interesting consistencies when it comes to providing evidence.
I’ve listened to dozens of ghost stories told by people who seem to believe them but you know what they never say? They never say, “I saw a ghost and took a photo of it.”
Everyone that claims to have shot a photo of a ghost also claims that it was an accident. They say, “I was just taking a picture of this here empty staircase for no particular reason.” Or, “I shot this portrait of two people in an oddly off centered fashion”. Conveniently, “ghosts” appeared in exactly the right spot after the fact.
My ex-sister-in-law claimed to have photographed the ghost of Jerry Garcia. She proudly showed me a photo of what was obviously lens flare. She was an experienced photographer and I felt she should’ve known better. On the other hand, she also claimed that the ghost of Jerry Garcia did everything from giving her directions to the nearest pay phone to helping her move furniture. Sometimes you have to consider the source.
My mom once stayed for a week at the Monroe Institute, a place where people go to practice having out of body experiences and to train in the art of remote viewing. I thought it was fascinating until she told me that, during her visit, participants were told that the spirits living there would appear in photographs in the form of orbs. For a place that fancies themselves to be conducting scientific research, that is some hocus-pocus nonsense.
I don’t mean to pee in anyone’s candy corn but photos with lens flare are not pictures of ghosts and orbs are bullshit. Sure, orbs will show up in photographs but they too are another form of lens flare.
I was a full time professional photographer for 15 years. I have been all over the southwest visiting ancient cemeteries, old churches, ghost towns and abandoned motor lodges on the old Route 66. I have shot tens of thousands of photographs in these places along with countless photographs of weddings and guess how many unexplainable pictures of “ghosts” I have?
That’s right. None.
The one thing that every bogus “ghost photo” of lens flare and orbs have in common is that they were obviously shot by amateur photographers on point and shoot cameras with built-in flashes. For the record, smart phones are also point and shoot cameras with built-in flashes. The flash being too close to the lens renders all kinds of weird results and, not understanding how cameras work, easily excitable picture snappers immediately assume their cameras are haunted when unexpected things appear in their photos.
Enthusiastic ghost hunters firing their built-in flashes into swarms of nocturnal insects or into the mirror, or towards any kind of shiny object are ready and willing to accept bad photography as evidence of the super natural. Failing to shade their lens from the sun and being blinded by the light, these are the same people who think they see the face of Jesus in a piece of burnt toast and go around checking their children’s hands and feet for the stigmata.
A few years ago, while on a quest to find an authentic photo of a ghost, I contacted every professional photographer I knew and asked them if they believed they had ever photographed a ghost or had any photos that defied explanation. They all said no.
I bet you think this story is about how I don’t believe in ghosts.
Let’s not jump to conclusions.
Maybe the issue isn’t that ghosts are real but maybe the issue is that they can’t be photographed. More specifically, something that cannot be seen with the human eye is not going to show up in a photo because, according to the laws of physics, for something to be visible it must reflect light.
Inversely, if vampires were real they would show up in photographs and in mirrors because you can see them.
If you want me to believe otherwise, evidence more compelling that what I’ve mentioned will need to be produced. The average person has a better chance of photographing a bona fide UFO than taking a picture of a ghost.
Not seeing and still believing.
There are those who claim not to believe in anything that they can’t see with their own eyes.
I call bullshit. By that rationale, to a blind person, nothing is real. Additionally, sight is only one of the ways that we experience and interpret reality. You can’t see the way a pot roast in the crock pot smells but the scent most certainly confirms the existence of the pot roast.
No one has ever shot a photo of gravity, or inertia, but these things are real and for that matter, please show me your photos of music.
Ghosts stories, taken at face value.
Several years ago I wrote a story for this blog called Watching The Flowers Sway.
I was proud of that piece but I never explained where it came from or why I would write such a horrific tale in the first place.
In 2003 one of my past wedding clients was murdered.
I saw her face on the news while drinking my morning coffee and I said, “That’s her!” as if I had already been talking about her though of course I hadn’t been.
The story on the news said she was missing and presumed dead. The police found a horrific scene in her classroom at the elementary school where she was an Occupational Therapist. I remembered watching her walk back to her car after she left my studio for the final time. Though I was not involved in any way, I felt that I had somehow let her down by not protecting her, I guess everyone probably felt like that.
The police said the janitor did it. The physical evidence against him was overwhelming even without the body which took almost two months to find.
Later that evening her husband was on the news pleading for anyone with information to come forward. It was heartbreaking. They had been married less than two years.
And then the news team went to interview the janitor’s family. The parents weren’t in a talkative mood but they found one of the janitor’s friends who said, “Martin wouldn’t have done something like that, he just bought new rims for his car.”
With a character witness like that and a trunk full of blood and hair, Martin was going to need a really good lawyer. No Saul Goodman was gonna get him out of this shit. He needed Johnnie Cochran and even then, O.J. seemed less guilty.
With the body being MIA, the story quickly fell out of the news and there was only a brief mention when the case finally went to trial in 2005. The body had been found by then and it, along with all the other evidence, was enough to get Martin sentenced to life in prison.
I watched the short bit on the news about the verdict in the trial. Two things stood out. One was that Martin’s mom was shown crying and saying, “I know my mijo is innocent”. No, he wasn’t. And, two, cameras were rolling on Martin when the jury read the verdict. He sat in his chair, bobbing his head and looking around as if everything were right with the world. He didn’t look the least bit concerned.
Six years later in 2011, I grew curious about the case again. Very little information was made available at the time and I still had so many questions.
One night I laid in bed looking up anything I could find on her case. A lot more information had been made available and it was gruesome, all of it, but I read every article I could find.
I was considering writing about it but I didn’t know what to say or where to start.
It was late at night when I finally ran out of articles. I plugged my phone in and turned out the light.
I hadn’t even gotten my pillows situated when the energy in the room changed.
It was dark and there was nothing to see but I swear there was another entity present, I could practically feel it breathing on me. I knew positively that it was her and the message was unmistakable. This was a cease and desist order of the highest kind. In retrospect, I wish I had tried to communicate but to be honest I panicked and turned the lamp on and just sat there like a big scardey-cat for almost an hour before getting brave enough to turn the light back off.
I decided not to write anything about her, ever.
But then I changed my mind.
While laying in bed trying my best to get some sleep I decided that she probably wasn’t trying to scare me. There’s no reason she should have any animosity towards me. Perhaps I had misunderstood.
I decided to conduct an experiment.
For three days I asked her what she wanted me to say. On the third day the story poured out. I moved my fingers on the keyboard but the images weren’t mine, they were hers, and they just kept coming.
I believe I channeled the entire story from her eight years after her death.
There are no photos to back my claim but eyesight is not the only way to experience reality.
You may read that story here if you like.