Why did people take post mortem photos?

Love photography? Check out the creepiest post mortem photos ever! These people were captured after their death to memorize them for the family. It looks very scary! Are you ready to see it?

post mortem photography

Watching the evolution of the post mortem photos of the second half of the XIX century, it is impossible not to discern the signs of the shift in public opinion, expressing the emergence of social discomfort in relation of the death. If the beginning of the post mortem photography the entire capture (light, pose) served to create a certain effect, which differed from the formal content of the image, the photographs of a later period, revealed a clear shift away from attempts to create a portrait of the individual to the dry documenting events. Usually people wanted to memorize the departed, because of high mortality rate. It was the post mortem meaning.

post mortem picture

The dead people were put among their family, often with pets or flowers. They even created a mechanism not to let the body fall down.  They opened a dead person’s eyes to make it look like he or she was alive. Usually there was a sign on post mortem pics, that they had a dead person on them. At that period you could meet a lot of post mortem celebrity photos or their masks.

In fact, already in the 80's of 19th century funeral was gradually transformed into a kind of public meeting form, what it has remained to this day. The appearance of mourning became more important – the clothing and decoration of the requiem. Complex rituals of farewell to the dead, preparation of the memorial service and the actually mourning served as a refuge from the pain of loss. Fewer people focused on the personal feelings.

 post mortem pic

At about this period of history, perhaps, precisely because of the establishment of more complex rituals of mourning, as well as a result of rejection of the death, which was formed by the time of public opinion on both sides of the Atlantic, there appeared a new profession - undertaker. The family of the dead person was moving away from the preparation of the body for burial and this fact was a turning point in the funeral photos. The photographer did not control the shot any more, but only documented the work that undertaker did.

Because of this there was increased commercial development in the area. Florists, carpenters and makeup artists appeared at the funeral scene. There appeared the agencies, taking all the work for the preparation of the funeral procession. Because of the large amount of preparatory work and their high cost, public inquiries accents finally shifted to a detailed formal documentation of visual composes of a funeral, such as: coffin design (in this period the simple wooden boxes were replaced by elegant draped cloth coffins), the decoration of the room in which a memorial service was held, flowers, which florists had brought and of course the participants of the funeral. For these reasons, the photo is moving away from the portrayed living person. More rarely, you could see the ‘face’ portraits.

 post mortem photo

At the end of the XIX century funeral pictures finally moved to a new stylistic level, which was much more similar to the report, rather than to the artistic portraiture.  The dead was photographed in the coffin, so people were able to see how the decoration of the tomb looked like, and the entire room in which the funeral took place.  The meaning of post mortem changed.

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