When I did a post on southern gothic photographer Clarence John Laughlin, oh, two years ago, one of my top favorite commenters, Lesle, mentioned that I might want to check out the work of Frances Benjamin Johnston. Johnston’s story alone is worth looking up—she was a pioneer female photographer who started out by capturing images of society, taking photos of everyone from famous authors to presidents. She was in big demand, but eventually her interests shifted and she started photographing buildings of the South. In the early twentieth century, lots of plantations were decaying, while kudzu was swallowing up sharecroppers’ shacks and farmhouses. Johnston saw the need for photographic documentation, so she set off on a southern roadtrip, taking back roads and a lot of photos, and becoming an early historic preservationist in the process.
Since it’s Halloween, I’m especially drawn to the creepier photos. Abandoned houses, spanish moss, dancers dressed up as wood nymphs, which don’t have anything to do with Johnston’s southern architecture series, but sort of fit the vibe . . .
If you want some more creepy South, you might want to check out today’s Southerly post. It’s all about a haunted house in Savannah that (spoiler alert) probably isn’t even all that haunted after all.