Does Photography Remove Your Soul?


I used to love the very few times I got to spend with my mother before she died. When she was out of the hospital on her good days; we used to roam the forgotten cemeteries in the countryside. My father sat shaking his head in his old Ford reading his Perry Mason paperbacks as he watched us read one crumbling stone after another.


Almonte cemetery- photo Linda Seccaspina

I will never know why she had such a fascination for these places but she always reminded me it was important to remember the dead as their families soon forget about them. So one day, long after she had passed, I started collecting antique portraits of the deceased at country auction sales.



I gave them names and created stories because like my mother; I wanted them to know someone cared. My favourite picture is a huge Victorian mourning shadow box from 1919. The little girl died a year after her communion and inside the gold framed shadow box is a veil, her picture and dried calla lilies. An elderly friend told me one day that the little girl had probably passed because the photographer had stolen her soul. I never really thought about it again until I went to Peralta Junction years ago in Berkeley and encountered a soul photographer there.


So was it true? Did photographers really steal your soul?



In some cultures any image taken may cause great distress because of religious beliefs, as they believe your reflection is your soul. If you look at some pictures of your great grandmother or possibly grandmother (depending on your age) you will notice no one smiles. There was popular belief that people didn’t like to have their pictures taken and the reason was because it stole your soul.

According to legends, mirrors when you look into them, reflect your soul and do not reflect back light that hits them. There is also an extension of the idea that your shadow is a reflection of your soul. Mirrors were considered an important part of the Mayan religion and culture as they thought mirrors opened portals into the other world, allowing ancestors and gods to pass through between the two planes. They believed when praying to a saint, the soul leaves the body. To help the soul find its way back into the body, mirrors are placed in front of saint statues to reflect back the soul. Many religions today still cover mirrors with black cloth when someone dies so the soul does not get trapped inside the mirror after death.



Most people today allow their photograph to be taken, however some still protect their infants as some still believe the souls of infants are fragile and are susceptible to leaving the body. Photographing an infant could harm the soul, preventing its return to the body. The soul is believed to be composed of thirteen parts, and photography damages or even removes some of these components and a shaman is sometimes brought in to restore a person’s soul.



I believe that photos are frozen moments of time and everyone knows first hand you do not get time back. You live for today as there might not be a tomorrow – so why worry about a disappearing soul?

Anyways, current word on the street is using a digital camera does not steal the subject’s soul, film cameras do.  So was Sears Inc. with their family photography promotions in on the soul stealing business all along; because I swear the woman below looks like my soul sister on a bad-hair day.


Linda- 1996 – 7:30 am the morning after one of her old stores fashion shows. The flowers survived but looks like she did not. Looks like her soul was sucked out!

Want to see more? Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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