Jeff Jacobson Photography


Photography: Of Fairies and The After Life

The dead in front of the camera: With simple tricks, self-proclaimed ghost photographers have been resurrecting the dead in pictures since the mid-19th century, thus ripping off gullible people. one day tells the story of an eerily good business – and shows the incredibly funny pictures.

Ghost Photography

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the prominent crime writer, the spiritual father of Sherlock Holmes, and the creator of the master detective (who embodied the rational-analytical thinker in the science-believing Victorian age) believes in ghost photography. Conan Doyle also played a huge role in the Cottingley Fairies that was captured in camera in 1917 by 16-year-old Elsie Wright and nine-year-old Frances Griffiths (later on, decades after, one of the young girls admitted it was a hoax). The Cottingley Fairies was then made into a movie in 1997 entitled FairyTale: A True Story (watch the movie and other films like this at uwatchfree).

Conan Doyle eventually published The Coming of the Fairies where he meticulously attempted to refute the arguments of critics who publicly challenged the authenticity of the images. He felt encouraged since even recognized photo experts could not explain exactly how the photos were taken.

William Hope: Pictures don’t lie

William Hope, known in Great Britain as a photographer, who was able to make the deceased visible in his pictures. The famous ghost photographer mastered the art of deception almost perfectly – and was more effective at it than almost anyone else.

In two decades, Hope once boasted, he managed to take more than 2,500 pictures, on which the hereafter supposedly sent its photographic greetings. The pictures that Hope, a carpenter by training, has been taking since 1905, show a strong resemblance: the alleged ghost always hovers behind or above the portrayed, who is looking seriously into the camera, sometimes a kind of white cotton wool wafts around the faded figures, sometimes it shines covered her with a cloth. And never more than an extremely blurred, shadowy face can be seen. That the people who allowed themselves to be photographed by William Hope identified themselves as relatives already deceased by virtue of their suggestion.

Because Hope, who had even founded an esoteric circle for researching paranormal images in his home town of Crewe, was by no means able to capture ghosts on photographic paper, but instead worked with a simple trick: he used a photographic plate on which the ominous phantom had already been exposed was. People still believed the charlatan – because they simply could not imagine that pictures lie. Especially since the medium of photography at that time was still strongly associated with the aura of the supernatural.

The photographic lens, so the metaphysical hope went, would be able to see and store more than man, trapped in his reason, could. Such thoughts were fueled by the followers of spiritualism, that affinity for hocus-pocus that mutated from the USA into a global mass movement. To the extent that science made rapid progress in the 19th century, the longing for an explanation of the inexplicable grew – and with it the number of followers of the spiritualists.

Read also: Strategies to Find Your Photographic Style

It’s a scam after all

Despite William Hope’s popularity, most ghost photographers have been exposed as scammers sooner or later. In order to unmask the British master trickster William Hope, an experienced ghost hunter first had to move in: On February 4, 1922, at 10:30 a.m., the researcher Harry Price met at the British College of Psychic Science in London for a séance with the ghost photographer Hope . Price was sent by the Society for Psychical Research: an association for the study of parapsychological phenomena. In a bid to convict Hope of cheating, Price handed him several photo plates secretly marked with X-rays.