This is one of the most eerie yet awesome phenomenon in the annals of history. During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, photography had become an art form, albeit very expensive. Therefore, people only had photographs taken for the most memorable occasions. One of these special occasions was the death of a loved one. You see, it seems grim to us now but many times the only time a family could afford to spend money on a photograph would be when a loved one had died, as this would literally be the last time they would ever be with them.
Most of the dead featured are children as children dropped like flies from things many of us do not consider threatening anymore. Influenza killed young and old alike as well as whooping cough. My own grandmother’s sister died at nine months of age due to the whooping cough. The dead were embalmed and then posed with their loved ones to create one last moment with the deceased. Today it seems creepy as hell but as stated, it was the only time many families could afford to have a photograph taken to forever remember their child or relative.
Photographs of this period took an extraordinarily long time to take and as such the living ones often appear blurred while the dead, in their absolute stillness, appear almost “HD”, crisp and clear. Truly a bizarre and fascinating moment in history. I would like to see this tradition brought back. Although it hasn’t completely died out, I remember one of my ex dealers had photographs in his living room of his mother and father in their coffins and the South Americans and Asians are far more comfortable with their dead than their American counterparts. Tell me what you think. Is this something you would like to see become mainstream again?