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 Early photography - keeping the baby from moving

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nordmann
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PostSubject: Early photography - keeping the baby from moving   Sun 02 Nov 2014, 10:11

In the days of long exposure times mothers were just as eager to have their new offsprings' mushes preserved for posterity in a photograph. The only problem was how to keep the little blighters still in individual portraits so as not to end up with a mushy blur of baby limbs, facial features, tears, vomit and other things babies produce when left to their own devices? Different mothers, photographers (and probably even a few fathers) came up with several "solutions" short of nailing the babies to the set. Can you spot the Victorian mummies in the pictures below?



















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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Early photography - keeping the baby from moving   Sun 02 Nov 2014, 11:03

Some of them look like those rather morbid photos that Victorians sometimes had taken, in memoriam, of their recently deceased offspring. Are you sure some of them are not so much still, as actually stiff?

Daily Mail - Victorian photographs of the dead

Spot the stiff:



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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Early photography - keeping the baby from moving   Sun 02 Nov 2014, 11:37

Memento Mori pictures seem macabre now, but they are incredibly moving illustrations of parental love in my view made by people for whom death was a constant intrusion into family life, despite the security their middle class status appeared to offer them, and who were therefore much better able to confront it and come to terms with it than their modern counterparts. An elderly woman living where I grew up had seven such photographs framed and hanging on the staircase wall in her house. All seven, she revealed to my mother, were her siblings, none of whom had made it past six months old. It comforted her to wish them goodnight as she went up the stairs to bed each evening.
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PostSubject: Re: Early photography - keeping the baby from moving   Sun 02 Nov 2014, 12:00

Well yes quite.

I'll admit that when my dad died my mother insisted I take several photos of him lying in the open coffin. That wouldn't have been so bad had he not been suffering from the effects of shingles, that had scarred his face so much that he had been unable to close his right eye for a couple of years. In death even the undertakers had been unable to get his eye to close and so he was left winking back, glassy-eyed from his coffin. 

I had no problem with any of that - he was after all just as we'd all known him - though personally I still prefer to remember him in death through the soft lens of memory rather than the fixed lens of a camera. And thankfully mum's Alzheimer's soon kicked in again and she completely forgot to ask me for the photos. This was some years ago and I'd had to use a disposable camera, and so I'd have had to get them developed and printed at Boots. I sometimes wonder what they would have made of that set of prints amongst all the other jolly holiday snaps, newborn baby shots, stag nights, birthday parties, etc.


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PostSubject: Re: Early photography - keeping the baby from moving   Sun 02 Nov 2014, 12:31

Number 2 looks like a fairie changeling, complete with abnormally long legs that end in cloven feet ... and surely Number 8 is a young Harry Potter about to be taken by a Death-Eater, but then rescued by Dumbledore at the last moment ... no?

Frankly it looks like that several of those photographers got their desired static results simply by scaring the wee bairns stiff, with faceless shrouded ghosties and disembodied hands, even if it was really only mummy in disguise.
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