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Post Mortem Photography

Post Mortem Photography is the pretty uniquely Victorian practice of photographing the recently deceased. The introduction of the daguerreotype in the mid-1800s meant that families who couldn’t afford fancy paintings of themselves could afford a photographic image. And that meant pictures of their dead.

The first images made the deceased look like he or she was just peaceful and sleeping.  This makes is hard to tell sometimes if the subject is even dead, especially since even living people in early photography look kinda vacant and dead-ish anyway.

Later images started to show the coffins and flowers and even living family members (especially with infants, who were still dying left and right in the 1800s).

Now we tend to think of photographing the dead as tabloid and gross — looking at you, leaked Whitney Houston casket photo. But if you ask me, the Victorians were masters of memorialization and don’t need your opinion, modern folk!

Keep sending your suggestions for Landis Blair to doodle and me to write about!

Thank you to Roxanne for suggesting “Post Mortem Photography,” this week’s doodle of doom ‘n’ gloom.

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