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