The Morbid Practice Of Post Mortem Photography

Everyone has their own way of grieving over the death of a loved one, and their own traditions when it comes to ushering the dead off into the afterlife.

Wakes and vigils have become far less common practices, and while sitting around with the body until burial may seem odd to some people there's something even more bizarre that people used to do with their loved one's body- post-mortem photography.

In the nineteenth century it was common practice for families to prop up the body of the deceased and take pictures, in part because photography had become far more accessible, and as a memento of the dearly departed.

Now, it may not seem that strange to want a photograph of your loved one to remember them by, but propping them up right next to their living siblings, or using a metal stand to support them so they look more "natural" in the photo- now that’s just plain weird!

-Via Little Things

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In the same era, photos were taken of emigrants (who would be no more accessible to family members than the dead) and livestock (especially exceptional or prize-winning animals). All were predictable subjects of early photography -- especially given expense and long exposure times. The rise of photography also paralleled a surge of interest in the spirit world (see Neatorama's own article on Houdini) and reflected the then-prevalent understanding of death as both warning (against ignoble deeds) and encouragement (to experience life fully).

I fear I have to agree with Esta Griffiths; Zeon Santos' article reflects more personal bias than the understanding produced by credible research. It even suggests (by omission or ignorance) that post-mortem photography is a Victorian anomaly, rather than an ongoing practice (
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Is halloween like April fools day now? This is absolute bunk!! Standing the dead is a myth. Stands were only used for the living. Post mortem photography was very common for a variety of reasons but this article is absolute rubbish! I recommend the Thanatos archive for accurate information on the subject. NEATORAMA YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED FOR REPEATING NONSENSE!!!!!
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This seems morbid to us now, but if you put yourself in that era, it's understandable. Photography was far more accessible to normal folks, but it wasn't cheap or common. When a child died, the family realized he/she had never had a portrait taken, and this was the last chance.
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