Posts Tagged ‘victorian’

Behind the scenes

(source: The Skull Illusion)
Not sure of the facts behind this picture. Rigor mortis seems to have set in on the subject. An interesting find.

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A quick piece I cobbled together from various snippets I have written over the last few days. This is not so much a story but a brief look into the world of the people I want to write my script about. I am not too sure on the technical aspects of the photography, such as the mechanics and exposure, but the sentiment is there. There is a story behind every photograph…

The old man’s eyes looked off into nowhere in particular. He sat slumped, his fragile spine crumpled under his dead weight. He’d been dead not twelve hours, but the sickness had already drained most of the colour from his face. His shoulders still seemed tense, even in death. The only part of him that seemed at peace were his eyes. He had resigned to his fate, he had reconciled with all his demons.

I turned to see the waiting family. A casket was open, and ready to receive him. This was the last of the formalities. I tilted my head, imagining the photograph. “Shift his head about, he looks like he is all twisted up”. Wordlessly, his wife obliged. His head was turned, and he gazed over to his family in a sort of dignified silence. His wife sat down next to him, supporting his drooping body.

His hands lay in an open bible. If one had only briefly glanced in his direction, one might hve thought he was reading, deep in thought, only to be disturbed by some sound or movement. One could imagine him reaching up to adjust his spectacles, or perhaps scratch his wiry beard. But of course he did not move. His wife placed her warm, wrinkled hand over his cold and work weathered hand for the last time.

Satisfied, I pulled the slide out of the wooden holder and placed it the camera. It slid home with a satisfying click as the metal clips snapped around it. I nodded wordlessly at the old man’s wife. She gave a tiny smile. “Stay completely still, this is the most important thing”. Feeling she had understood, a reached around the camera body, and quickly removed the lens cap. In the sunny sitting room, four minutes ought to be plenty of time for exposure. I checked my watch. The wife sat with absolute stillness, as though it was the most important thing that she had ever done.

(source: photo.net)

Occasionally her eyes would flick to her dead husband, but mostly she stared straight down the lens of the camera. I could see how in life these two would have sat around the fire, or held each other close in the evenings.They seemed to fit so comfortably into one another, despite one having moved into the next world. I imagined them laughing together, their wedding day… This was their final moment, and the memory that would last for many years to come.

I placed the lens cap back over, sealing the image away from the destructive light. I would process it momentarily. The wife’s lip quivered as her daughter tried to pull her hand away from her husbands. Two strapping young lads lifted the frail old man’s body easily, and he was laid into the casket as though sleeping. The bible was tucked into his hands. I saw the wife bend over to kiss her husband goodbye. Her hand trailed across his forehead, tucking away loose hairs.

I tucked the slide holding the precious plate into its case. I would return in the morning with the last picture of this husband and wife, the only picture of this husband and wife. I tipped my hat and paid my final respects, before turning and leaving for my studio.

I’ve been hoping to start collecting interesting photographs  (particularly post mortem ones), and that all began today when I picked up a few curious bits and pieces for not very much. I hope to share some of my more interesting pieces.

I have found what I think is a post mortem photograph (for $7, a bargain!). I’ve been studying them quite closely, so I have developed something of an eye for spotting them. In this, there was something about the eyes…

Probable post mortem photograph of a little boy. There is something not quite right about his eyes and positioning in the chair.

The photograph didn’t scan so well, so I have brought up the contrast with Photoshop. It was found tucked away in a box of old photographs at the Chapel St Bazaar in Prahran.

I dearly would love to know more about this photograph, but there is no information on the back. I can only hazard a guess that it looks like very early 20th century (but I could be wrong, if someone could shed some light, I’d be grateful!). The chair seems reasonably modern.  From first glance, the boy seems to be quite healthy. I wonder what it was that led him to his untimely death. It seems that the family have decorated the sitting area with tree fronds. The oriental fan at the bottom right hand corner is curious too. Perhaps it was a souvenir?

The more I look at the photograph, the more haunting it seems. This little boy’s image made it all the way through history, his likeness preserved and finally digitized. Such a wonder is photography.

Victorian era post-mortem family portrait of parents with their deceased daughter. (Source: Wikipedia)

Now that I have shot my latest film, it is never too early to start with the next one. I have been fascinated by post-mortem photography for many years, so it only seems natural to explore it through film. I would love to know the stories of these families.
This photograph is very interesting. You can tell that the young woman is deceased by the stillness. Photographs of that era took a long time to expose, so living people are always ever so blurry. But the dead are completely motionless, crisp and sharp for the photo.