Logan White Photographed by Nate Walton
City: Los Angeles
Logan White is a photographer who lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. She talks with us about her early life growing up in Georgia and how the South has influenced her work.
Can you tell us any stories about ghosts that you or your family have encountered while living in the South?
Yes, in my family ghosts have always appeared mostly in symbols and in dreams, usually conveying messages of comfort. It must take a lot of energy for spirits to communicate directly and make themselves visible or able to be heard by us; so I think that’s why their messages more often come through symbols and dreams. When I was a kid they frightened me, and whenever I felt a presence was near I would take off my clothes as a way to keep them from bothering me, because I thought they were old Southern ghosts who would be too polite and embarrassed to bother me at a time like that. Then, I would say out loud,”If you are here, don’t show yourself to me. I am afraid and even though I’m sure you’re nice, I never want to see you.” And I never did see a ghost, so I think they listened.
Your family has a long history in the South, in particular on the land where your family has lived for over two hundred years. Can you tell us a little about your family history?
I’m the sixth generation of my family that has lived on our land in Macon, Georgia; the family has owned it since the 1800’s. On this land my family built three houses, which still stand. My ancestors the Logans were originally from Donegal, Ireland. All of the women have had Logan somewhere in their names; Logan is actually my middle name, my first name is Louise. I’m named after my mother Louise Logan Barfield who is a classical pianist. She still performs and teaches, and has turned one of the houses on the property into a concert hall that is called The Little Carnegie of the South. My mother has had a lot of ghostly experiences, mostly involving her mother, my grandmother.
For instance, toward the end of my grandmother’s life a little dog showed up at the door; this little papillon just clung to my grandma, who named her Peaches. My mom thought that Peaches kept Grandma alive longer. My mother slept in the same room with her taking care of her while she was sick; the room they shared was actually the back porch that was full of windows and looked out to the back yard. My grandma looked out one night and asked my mother, “Who’s that woman walking up?” Mom looked out the window and not seeing anyone asked her, “Who do you see, what do you mean?” Grandma said, “I see this woman in a long white dress coming toward us.” And my mother didn’t say anything. After Grandma died, Mom continued to sleep on the back porch. One night Peaches was resting in her lap when the dog started growling at something, then jumped up staring across the room to grandma’s bed. She kept growling and ran over to the bed and started barking and acting crazy. Then abruptly, she stopped barking, went back over to my mom and calmly rested again in her lap. My mother looked at the clock and saw that the time was the exact same time that Grandma had died.
Another story followed the death of my grandmother. My mom and her friend were in the kitchen when she felt a presence. She looked up at the kitchen clock and asked aloud in front of her friend, “Mama if you’re here, move the minute hand ten minutes forward,” and it did. Then she asked aloud, “If you’re here move the minute hand five minutes forward,” and it did it again. Then Mom burst into tears.
There is also a story about the rose bushes in the front of our house, one of which never bloomed. Mom looked out at them one day and said out loud, “Mama if you’re here, make the roses bloom.” She said within a couple of hours, beautiful roses bloomed on all the bushes.
Another day Mom was making soup from one of grandma’s recipes. Mom was getting stressed because she was afraid she had put too much water in and had ruined the soup. Later that day she was visiting with her friend, who didn’t know anything about mom’s trying to make the soup or that it was my grandma’s recipe. Her friend told her, “I had the strangest dream about your mother. In the dream she was young, beautiful, and very peaceful, and she said, “Tell Louise not to use too much water in the soup and that I’m fine and to stop worrying about me.” And my mom was just amazed because her friend didn’t have any idea that she was making the soup or that she was worried about messing it up!
What and who inspired you to begin photography when you were growing up?
My mother’s piano playing always inspired me growing up; the romantics like Rachmaninoff, Chopin, and Liszt were the soundtrack to my life, I think the music combined with the Southern Gothic and family ghost stories instilled this romantic, dark, tragic kind of feeling in me that really helped form my esthetics. I also remember finding a book of my grandmother’s called Ghosts Along the Mississippi by photographer Clarence John Laughlin. He was an architecture photographer who took beautiful black and white photographs of old southern mansions, and he fell in love with all of the ghost stories associated with them. So, alongside the photographs, he wrote the stories about the ghosts who lived there in a surrealist, gothic, poetic, romantic style. I was around five years old when I discovered it and I was just blown away. It scared me in a way, but it was also so familiar to me because they looked like my houses and it showed the supernatural realm as well that I was just starting to get exposed to from my family.
What inspires you about the South, photographically or visually?
I’m attracted to the sort of contradiction of beauty and decay that I see in the South. Visually, I’m attracted to the age and history that sort of informs that look. I love antiques and overgrowth and how in the South there’s this old world history, this forgotten land, and this holding on to tradition. There’s such a supernatural energy there, because there’s so much death and so much sadness in a way—but also so much pride.
And now that you’re living in Los Angeles, what do you find inspires you here?
I’m inspired more in L.A. by the access I have to culture; I visit interesting art shows and socialize with creative people, who I find are more like-minded to me. And, when I go back home to the South, what I’m inspired by is still a really insular, mysterious, secret, family history. It’s protected; it’s like a fragile thing that you have to protect. I find that it’s so different for me here. Actually, I am still basically inspired by the South.
Interview of Logan White by Emma Kathan for Psychic Gloss Magazine.
Photos by Logan White