Oct 27, 2013

The Creepiest kind of Pictures: Postmortem Photography

When I was a little girl, I went to two houses where the body of the deceased was being held until the funeral took place.  One of those houses was that of an uncle and my grandfather was placed in the living room. Dead people terrified me.  Their stiff limbs and torso with the unnatural pallor of their skin sent shivers up my spine. I can still see these images in my mind and it disturbs me.
I have a pet peeve with funerals. It's with the taking pictures of the corpse. I know that people want to remember the deceased.  But I would much rather have a picture of the person while they are still alive rather than one of them in the casket. (I have a picture of my father that is currently in the basement and wish that I had never seen it.)  While looking at videos on Youtube the other day I saw a snippet of post-mortem photography. So, I clicked on the links and they took me here and here. Eerily, I looked at the photographs with the unnatural poses for the dead. I had a hard time sleeping that night.

Here is what I found out: In the Victorian Era, the mortality rate was very high, especially with small children and babies. The parents wanted a photograph in which to remember the deceased.  They even had posing poles so that the corpse could be photographed standing up. There were many pictures of adults standing up holding their children or men standing alone with a partial view of the stand behind them.  The thing is this, they didn't have that many pictures taken due to lack of money.  So, when someone died they called in the photographer. The family was very proud of these pictures and hung them in their homes, sent them to relatives, and wore them around their necks in lockets.  I don't know about you, but I am glad that this is not part of our culture anymore because, quite frankly, it gives me the creeps. 

P.S. The above photograph is not postmortem, it is a picture of John and Sally Smith with their children. (some of my relatives)