I think they did it out of love & respect. Society today is repulsed by death. It''d be healthier for us to not be in so much denial about it. We all have to come to terms with death. It''s inevitable.
Fascinating for sure, amazed that they actually took the time to set them up, and stage a photo.
I photographed my mother''s funeral in July, including her body in the casket. It was my way of coping with the open-casket thing, which I hadn''t experienced for about 25 years.\
In the end, my siblings were glad I did it. We grew up seeing casket photos of great-great grandparents and other long-dead relatives, so it wasn''t completely foreign to us.\
I''m a journalist and photog-- one of the photos from the series-- not of the casket or funeral itself but from the cemetery-- was just chosen among finalists at an on-line design-photo site. \
(I''d link to it but my name is attached to it.)
Not from the South
I do, too, R3.\
I didn''t know this was done until I watched "The Others" with Nicole Kidman.
My bf''s mother took photos with her Kodak at his dad''s funeral in the 1990s. She has them in an album stored on a shelf in the guest bedroom.
"What a bunch of weirdos, taking pictures with the diseased."\
It''s not what we do, and everything we do is perfect, so they must be weird!
Fucking COOL thread, OP. I knew they took pictures of their dead children back then, but who knew they posed people as if they were living. Wow! Trippy as shit!
What was the point in propping them up and taking pictures like they were still alive? Weird.
The photographs with corpses with open eyes and awkward poses are bizarre. What a bunch of weirdos.
I have a small group of maybe 15 post mortem daguerreotype portraits. %0D\
Of this sort...
The Catholic side of my family was doing it up until about 20 years ago.
People lived much more intimately with death than we do these days. It wasn''t as creepy as it is today. Also, photography was more of an inconvenience and probably more expensive in those days. People may have missed the opportunity to photograph a loved one in life. People were proud that they could afford embalming, so funerals were a testament to their status.
Nothing wrong with it. Especially when most people died much younger then. I mean an abscessed tooth or appendicitis was probably a death sentence. People were also a lot more religious and sure of where they were going after death. So death was a lot closer and less feared.
[quote] People lived much more intimately with death than we do these days.%0D\
My brother lived in a Victoraian era house that had a coffin niche in the main dining room.
Can you link to a picture of what that is, R21?
It''s really an extension of the memento mori that have been around for hundreds of years. In the 18th and first half of the 19th century, at funerals it was common to hand out rings, gloves, (a Philadelphia gentleman noted that he wouldn''t have to buy gloves for several years due to all the funerals,) and other small mementos that noted the passing of someone. Miniatures (small portraits on ivory) were also done of the dead. As photography became more popular and affordable in the second half of 19th century, it was a logical extension of this old custom. Also, in rural areas, photographers were usually summoned two times during a person''s time on earth: their wedding and their funeral. So, death portraits were often the only likeness families had of the departed. You''ll notice that there''s lots of pictures of living people dressed in mourning since the photos were taken at a family funeral.
Not that I know of, R22, but I can try to describe it.%0D\
The main dining room was located in the middle section of the house (midway from front to back) and stretched across the whole width from side to side, with with deep bay windows on each end, about 30 x 15 plus the bays in total size.%0D\
One end was for a dining table and the other had a strange ornate doorframe but no doors, beyond that, an area about 6 feet deep, plus the bay window. That was the coffin niche. %0D\
In those days, they probably used it about as often as some people now use a formal dining room.
I''ve read that it was often the only photograph taken of the dean person so that is why they did it.
In the picture with the three sisters sitting (12th picture from the bottom), I couldn''t tell which one was dead!
"Why didn''t they just take pictures of their family while they were alive?"%0D\
I always wondered why people take pictures of dead relatives. The subject was discussed in a "Dear Abby" column; the people who did this insisted that they did it to commemorate how "good" the corpse in the casket looked. One person said a relative became more and more sickly looking due to long illness, but when she was in her coffin she looked so BEAUTIFUL! Of course a picture had to be taken of her looking so good. I wanted to say to this person: weren''t any pictures taken of her when she was alive and healthy? Why not look at THEM, instead of her lying dead in a casket?
My best friend''s mom growing up collected these, the old tintype ones. She was an archeologist and specialized in death customs. She scoured estate sales and antique shops for these and lined them up on a narrow railing around the rooms of their old Virginia plantation house. She liked the creepiness of them but also the house itself was so creepy. Their house...was extremely haunted.
[quote] Why didn''t they just take pictures of their family while they were alive?%0D\
Maybe then, like now, extended family didn''t get together unless someone got married or died? %0D\
I can''t wait to buy the new Michael Jackson album. I love him so much!
weird about the dead
I''m guessing photographs were expensive and only taken at weddings and funerals. To take a photo of the living would be something wealthy people would do, but ordinary people would find it a luxury and would only spend the money to have a likeness of the dead person so as to remember them.
They often DID take other photos of the deceased while they were alive, but they wanted one last look at the dead person--how they were at the very end, so they could treasure that memory always.
Image #10 looks more like it was taken in the 1940s or even the 1950s.
OP EPIC FAIL
The woman that sits in the cube behind me had a still birth last year. A photo was taken of the dead baby. She has it hanging in her cube.%0D\
So it still happens.%0D\
It looks like the one at the link, as an example.
[quote]One end was for a dining table and the other had a strange ornate doorframe but no doors, beyond that, an area about 6 feet deep, plus the bay window. That was the coffin niche. %0D
Sorry, "coffin niches" are the stuff of good stories but not of architectural history. I don't quite follow your description, but it might be an apsidal niche to balance a projecting bay on the opposite way, a bay window, or a niche intended for a larger server or sideboard. In 19thC houses, openings of all sorts were sometimes cased (fitted out with what looks like door or window frames) without doors ever having been intended; it's a framing device showing off an architectural conceit or feature of some more domestic sort.%0D
Of course drawing rooms and dining rooms served double duty as places of funerals, but having seen thousands of 19thC houses all over the place, none have had any particular architectrual features meant specifically to accommodate funerals. (Victorians would rightly have thought [italic]that[/italic] weird.)%0D
A more common belief is that niches found at the landings of stairs were meant to accommodate the passage of coffins on narrow stairs. Again, however, these were primarily decorative, and if they had a secondarily practical function it was in moving furniture, not coffins (after all, a body could easily be brought downstairs without a coffin, saving the bother.) [see link for illustration of these]%0D
R36 has no personal experience with anything but a keyboard.
I just read ''Yellow Jack'' by Josh Russell.\
It''s a fictional story which takes place in New Orleans in the 1800s.\
Daguerreotypes were new to New Orleans at that time and the main character is the person presenting them to the city. Although he does not like taking death/funeral photos, he ends up doing so because they are lucrative.\
The term yellow jack refers to the yellow fever that appears yearly in New Orleans. It kills a number of people.\
The book is fictional but I believe it is based on what actually occurred in NO during that time.
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