Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Spirit Photography

During the last half of the 19th Century, spirit photography, i.e., attempting to capture manifestations of spirits (make that ghosts) utilizing photographic processes, became wildly popular. It's popularity went all the way to the White House!

Who knew Abe and Martha had enough spare time on their hands--what with the Civil War raging on and all--to get bit by the spirit photography bug?

To this day, the art and craft of spirit photography lives on although, admittedly, not with the same zeal as it did 150 years ago. Most modern day practitioners attempt a more scientific approach in their quests to find evidence that spirits walk amongst us. (I wonder if they teach a class in spirit photography at the Brooks Institute?)

The vast majority of spirit photographs have been debunked as fraud. Yet still, a few examples defy logic and fuel the search for photographic proof that there is an afterlife. Hollywood has exploited the spirit of the spirit photography craze a few times. The recent feature film, Shutter, is a good example. Hollywood's "Shutter" is a remake of a Thai horror film of the same title. I haven't seen either version but I'll bet the original is, as is usually the case, a scarier better film. You can check out the trailer for the original "Shutter" HERE.

For a more detailed history of spirit photography, CLICK HERE. If you're interested in learning even more, a spirit photography Google search yields many more results. Or, simply sit back and take a look at the short video I found on YouTube that briefly examines the history of spirit photography.

By the way, if you're wondering why I'm so captivated with photography's past, I believe that learning about the history of photography and the work of its greatest craftsmen and artists helps me better understand photography's present state. Leastwise, that's a big chunk of the reason. Besides, who knows? Learning about this stuff might even help make me a better shooter. Stranger things have happened.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Shootist Guy! My name is Jeff and I work at Brooks Institute. We don't teach spirit photography here. The closest we come is industrial/scientific.

ishootistguy said...

lol! Thanks for the clarification, Jeff! :-)