How Spirit Photographers Convinced People the Images Were Real
Looking at the spirit photography images today, it’s hard to fathom how people could have believed these images were real. The ‘spirits’ in the image were too vague, blurry, and features were hard to discern. But in the 1800s, photography was a new, novel, and often expensive venture. It wasn’t accessible to everyone; when their loved ones passed, they had no photographic image for remembrance. Photographers, when negotiating the portrait session, would lead the discussion toward lost loved ones. The photographer, then, could reach into their portrait archives to find an image that fit the description, one that, through special effects, could be inserted into the portrait to look like a hazy ‘spirit.’ That spirit would be transparent and blurry but have enough resemblance to the sitter’s description to be convincing. It merely took some suggestion, and the subject could believe it was the returning spirit of their loved one.