CLOSE

Only the Creepiest Photos Ever Taken

Mourning is a strange thing, and different cultures deal with it in vastly different ways. But there are reasons people associate the Victorians with morbidity and death, and one of them is memento mori.

The fact is, postmortem photographs like this were taken more than any other kind of photograph in the Victorian era -- especially in the U.S. -- and in many cases these carefully arranged, meticulously staged pictures were the only ones ever taken of their subjects. From Stanley Burns' book Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America:

These photographs were a common aspect of American culture, a part of the mourning and memorialization process. Surviving families were proud of these images and hung them in their homes, sent copies to friends and relatives, wore them as lockets or carried them as pocket mirrors. Nineteenth-century Americans knew how to respond to these images. Today there is no culturally normative response to postmortem photographs.

So, given your lack of a "culturally normative response" to these pictures, dear reader, we advise the faint of heart among you to click elsewhere.

"Child in Coffin at the Death Room"
child.jpg

From PBS.com: "This portrait appears to have been taken in the formal parlor of a family home. The parlor, or "death room," was an important part of funerary rituals for most of the 19th century, the place where deceased family members were laid out for final respects. This image dates to c. 1890-1905, a time when many funerals were still taking place at home. Soon, however, death would begin to leave the home and by end of World War I most Americans will receive their health care in doctor's offices and hospitals and most funerals will take place in funeral homes. As the funeral "parlor" came into vogue, the home parlor was rechristened a "living room." A 1910 issue of Ladies Home Journal declared the "death room" to be a term of the past."

Also, did you notice the strange silhouette on the right side of the picture? That's the photographer's assistant, holding the casket lid open for the shot.

brothers.jpg
For me, though, more intriguing than the dead are the living who pose with them -- usually stoic and reserved, it's the little bit of emotion their faces betray that make these portraits so compelling ... and heartbreaking. (Above and below: siblings with their brothers.)

brother.jpg

Another common theme in Victorian-era postmortem photography was the staged scene of mourning, which was often highly melodramatic, like this one, "Orphans at Their Mother's Grave":
grave.jpg
The photograph above also reveals another Victorian preoccupation: spirit photography. Likely a double-exposure featuring an "actress" portraying the childrens' mother, this style seems to me a highly theatrical way to deal with one's grief.

newspaper.jpg
Another style was the photograph in which the dead were posed to look alive -- the first in this series, at the top of this post, is an "eyes-open" example. The use of props like this man's newspaper was less common; perhaps it was included to distract from the unnatural rigidness of his hands, among other giveaways.

Follow me on Twitter

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Harry Trimble
arrow
Design
Delightful Photo Series Celebrates Britain’s Municipal Trash Cans
Harry Trimble
Harry Trimble

Not all trash cans are alike. In the UK, few know this better than Harry Trimble, the brains behind #govbins, a photo project that aims to catalog all the trash can designs used by local governments across Britain.

Trimble, a 29-year-old designer based in South London, began the series in 2016, when he noticed the variation in trash can design across the cities he visited in the UK. While most bins are similar sizes and shapes, cities make trash cans their own with unique graphics and unusual colors. He started to photograph the cans he happened to see day-to-day, but the project soon morphed beyond that. Now, he tries to photograph at least one new bin a week.

A bright blue trash can reads ‘Knowsley Council: Recycle for Knowsley.’
Knowsley Village, England

“I got impatient,” Trimble says in an email to Mental Floss. “Now there’s increasingly more little detours and day trips” to track down new bin designs, he says, “which my friends, family and workmates patiently let me drag them on.” He has even pulled over on the road just to capture a new bin he spotted.

So far, he’s found cans that are blue, green, brown, black, gray, maroon, purple, and red. Some are only one color, while others feature lids of a different shade than the body of the can. Some look very modern, with minimalist logos and city website addresses, Trimble describes, “while others look all stately with coats of arms and crests of mythical creatures.”

A black trash can features an 'H' logo.
Hertsmere, England

A blue trash can reads ‘South Ribble Borough Council: Forward with South Ribble.’
South Ribble, England

A green trash can with a crest reads ‘Trafford Council: Food and Garden Waste Only.’
Trafford, Greater Manchester, England

Trimble began putting his images up online in 2017, and recently started an Instagram to show off his finds.

For now, he’s “more than managing” his one-can-a-week goal. See the whole series at govbins.uk.

All images by Harry Trimble

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Live Smarter
GoPro Will Let You Trade in Your Old Digital Camera for One of Their Cool New Ones
iStock
iStock

If your camera is aging, GoPro just gave you a great incentive to trade it in for a new model. The company has launched a buyback program that discounts its latest models if you send in your old camera, according to TechCrunch.

If you participate in the GoPro TradeUp program, the company will lop $50 off the price of the new GoPro HERO6 Black and $100 off the price of the Fusion, both released in late 2017. The offer applies to any digital camera—GoPro or not. Now might be a good time to offload that digital point-and-shoot you’ve been sitting on. (It does have to have an original retail value of at least $100.)

GoPro tried a similar initiative in 2017, giving customers 60 days to send in older GoPro models and get a discount on new models. Almost 12,000 customers answered the call. Now, the company is bringing it back with no end date, and the program will now accept any digital camera, whether GoPro-made it or not. “Dented, dinged, destroyed—no problem, we’ll take it,” the site promises.

If you’re already looking to get a new camera and want to dispose of your old one properly, this is a good way to do it. According to the company, “returned cameras will be recycled responsibly via zero landfill and recycling methods appropriate to material type.”

When you order one of the two available GoPro models through the TradeUp program, the company will direct you to dust off your old camera and send it in, with shipping costs covered. Once GoPro receives your old camera, it will send you the discounted new one.

With the discounts, a HERO6 Black would cost $350, and the 360°-shooting Fusion would cost $600.

[h/t TechCrunch]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios