Fads come and go, some more weird than others, but I’m glad to say I missed the one involving dead bodies.
A macabre insight into photographic portraiture can now be seen on photo sharing website Reddit, which uploaded some quite spooky pictures recently.
It seems that early daguerreotype photographs started a craze in some quarters to capture everything for posterity (and you thought today’s lot were bad!)
When a loved one died in the late 19th century it was common for portraits to be commissioned of the deceased, but with technology came a more affordable, if downright creepy, solution. With photography, now everyone could have a keepsake of their dearly departed.
Known as post-mortem photography, some corpses were snapped in their coffins alongside funeral attendees.
However in some cases the dead were made to appear as though they were asleep or even life-like as they were positioned next to living family members.
It was an age of high infant mortality rates – and children were often shown in repose in a crib or on a couch, while adults were posed in chairs. Just to add my own tuppence worth, it would be interesting to know how photographers combated rigor mortis when they were posing their late clients.
Not content with capturing the dead, sometimes it was felt necessary to make it seem as though the subject was still alive, with the result that eyes were propped open or pupils painted on to the photo later. A rosy tint was also sometimes added to the faces on the prints to give the impression of vitality.
As photographs became more commonplace, thankfully, this practice fell out of fashion.
There are those who manage to look drop dead gorgeous when a camera snaps them. I can’t say the same for these morbid relics, though…