Oddly Fascinating Photos of the 'Living' Dead

2012-10-30 8

I’ve given everyone a fair bit of the fun side of Halloween, so now that we’re counting down the hours to the spooky celebration, it’s time for me to bring on the fright side. I have to warn you though—the photos you are about to see are potentially nightmare-inducing. If you’re ready, read on to see some compelling photos of people you might not believe were already dead by the time they were photographed.

When I said “living dead” I did not mean zombies, of course. Rather, I was referring to the oddly fascinating Post-Mortem Photography that was prevalent during the Victorian Era. In case you’ve forgotten about that somewhat hair-raising feature I did last year, here’s a quick recap. There were two circumstances that brought about this form of mourning and paying last respects to the dearly departed:

1. Photographs commanded a high price so people had very few occasions to have their photos taken. Death was one of these.

2. The Victorian Era was a period plagued by very high mortality rates, especially among children, so there are many post-mortem photos of the young ones more than the adults.

Now, you must have seen some of the post-mortem photos of men, women, and children that I shared in the past, but you haven’t seen the creepiest of them all so far. That, ladies and gentlemen, are my offerings for this year’s fright-fest. Without further ado, let me present some photos of people you might not believe have already passed away by the time they were photographed:

Photos via Pictures in Time on Blogspot, FuckYeahVictorians on Tumblr, Post Mortem Set by netzanette on Flickr, and Haunted Girl on Blogspot, and Opacity Forum.

You must be wondering, why were these people made to look more lifelike than dead? Putting into consideration the two circumstances mentioned above, a post-mortem photograph was the only photograph many of the people back then could have. If their families could afford one, it would be the only photograph they could remember their departed loved one by. Therefore, many would prefer seeing their deceased husband, wife, or child as if they were still very much alive—looking either pensive, sleeping, standing, or even with their eyes wide open.

First photo: a photographer taking a post-mortem photograph of a posed deceased man. Second photo: Diagram of the special tool used to prop the deceased into a standing pose. Third photo: Interesting post-mortem photo of a fireman posed to stand, with one closed eyelid painted to create the illusion of open eyes. Fourth photo shows a closer look on the eyes. Photos via Margaret Gunning's House of Dreams on Blogspot, Pictures in Time on Blogspot, and The Seventh Sense

To achieve this, photographers got creative and carefully posed the deceased by resting them on chairs, propping them up using special stands, sitting them down with family members, and even painting their closed eyelids to give the illusion of open eyes.

If you managed to get this far, congratulations, dear reader…and sweet dreams!

All information for this article were sourced from Post-mortem photography on Wikipedia, Memento mori on Wikipedia, Pictures in Time on Blogspot, and The Seventh Sense.

written by plasticpopsicle on 2012-10-30 #lifestyle #tintypes #post-mortem-photography #analogue-lifestyle #death #lomography #victorian-era #early-photography #history #dead #halloween


  1. dollymixture
    dollymixture ·

    This is both creepy and oddly beautiful at the same time. Great article.

  2. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·


  3. violetz
    violetz ·

    that's right, dollymixture... creepy and beautiful!

  4. naomac
    naomac ·

    you out creeped yourself on last years photo's .

  5. ayer
    ayer ·

    creepy.... but interesting, though I wouldn't want to make a career or hobbie out of this! XD

  6. co
    co ·

    dead or alive?

  7. astreiker
    astreiker ·


  8. Liana Mellow
    Liana Mellow ·

    Does anyone know where I can find out about the girl in the first image?

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