8.27.2010

Fiendishly Fun Friday - Vintage family albums

Ever seen a Victorian photograph and thought that something looked "off" about the person? Well, "mourning photography" was very popular. Most people couldn't afford to have photos of even special occasions like birthdays or weddings, but because the technology was available, they did want a life-like picture with which they could remember loved ones. Once the loved one had died, there seemed to be a "Well, it's now or ever" attitude, and people would have photographs taken of their recently deceased relatives. Because many people wanted these photographs to be as life-like and natural as possible (Someone should have written a pamphlet: To make your photographs appear as life-like as possible, take while subject is actually still alive), corpses would be posed, and pupils were often painted on to closed eyes.
Here are some wonderfully unsettling examples:
This fireman, at first glance, looks relatively normal.


But zoom in on his face and . . .



The alternative was paining pupils on to the deceased's closed eyes, as you can see in this portrait from Petrolia Heritage


This one comes from the Museum of Mourning Photography See how she appears to be slightly tilted? The corpses were essentially propped up against stands and frames made for the purpose.



This one is perhaps my favourite (favourite seems like such an inane term to use for these; this is the one to which I have the strongest emotional response) It comes from Flickr user Victorian Era It's unclear whether both father and child are dead, but it seems likely as during this time, far more photographs were taken of corpses than of living people. There are a significant number of photos in which living relatives are shown mourning a recently-deceased person, but in these, the living mourner(s) always have their eyes open. (as in the photo above of a deceased daughter with her two living parents)


Now, don't you feel shallow for moaning about the problems you have taking decent photos with a digi camera? :P Happy Friday! :D

17 comments:

Wilfreda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wilfreda said...

Way to creepy!!!

DonnaMundinger said...

Wish I had a scanner! I've GOT some of these pictures of dead relatives(?). Also a fair amount of coffins and gravesites. nice! xxD

Shelley said...

That is creepy, thanks for sharing. My grandmother had one of a relative in his coffin she had hanging on the wall. That was really creepy!

Creepy Glowbugg said...

Alright, you win. I am all about creepy and macabre, but these death pics are just to much. Way morbid. I still don't understand why you would want to remember someone that way - I can barely attend a funeral and I NEVER view the body. Bad mojo, man.

Jill Oriente said...

Being a photographer, I have always been fascinated by these photos.

Dezinaworld said...

Good gracious these are very creepy, its fascinating as i didnt know they did that.
thanks for sharing

Cheryl Valadez said...

Whoa...!! The creep factor is off the charts on this one, but oh so interesting! I simply cannot look away! Now who's the creep...lol!

The Frog Queen said...

Why yes I do :)

Those are just very creepy.

Thanks for sharing.

Cheers!

Mrs. D. Rivers said...

that tops the creepy meter without trying...and I complain about how awful i look in pictures!!!

Sugar said...

freaky! I love it!

lachsekatze said...

I have to admit that the fireman is a bit of creepy. But I also think that the photos don't show something scary but the love or the mourning of the family. I also know that even today people make death masks of recently deceased. Asking an artist for a drawing of a dead loved one was usual and there were artists that specialised on drawing or painting dead people. But most times they portrayed the deceased person in his/her coffin.
I think we find this scary because we do not often have dead bodies in our rooms as today people are taken away from their homes when they have died.

Crystal said...

Sometimes this was the only photo they would have of the passed relative. Cameras werent an everyday event like they are now. I think the photos are amazing!!!!

Jean said...

This is super creepy. You learn something new everyday.

Gina said...

Oh My Good Grief!!! I can understand relatives wanting an image to remember a loved one by, but to have them propped up next to you while you sit for goodness knows how long for the photo to be taken is awesomely creepy:$ I knew they took posed photos of dead children(sleeping peacefully bless)but I didn't know about these! I don't know how to spell the sound I want to make (shuddery,creepedout,freaky laugh)so got to make one of these for something(still shuddering haha)
XXX

Kay said...

Totally creeped out in a "can't look away" kind of way.

Celeste said...

My great-grandmother had pictures of her brother and years later her baby boy in their coffins in the living room of her home. My grandfather said they used to prop the coffin up in the corner like the person was standing and put a bottle of beer in their hand and have a party. (They were Irish!)