Why Do Victorian-era Portraits Have Creepy Blanketed Figures?

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Photography in the Victorian era (the mid- to late 1800s) took minutes to take a single photo, which made photographing children especially difficult. Parents would hold children still behind them, or even drug the children to sedate them a bit. However, photography studios had a fixed rate per person. Because of this, parents, relatives, or even photography studio employees would disguise themselves with blankets or drapes in photos. Another method to make the adult disappear from the photo is physically scratching out their faces during photo development, leaving creepy faceless bodies or bodyless hands holding the child.

Why 1800s Portrait Photography Features Blanketed Parents

All came down to cost.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. In early photography studios, subjects had to sit for at least half a minute for the photograph to expose. 00:52

  2. In the Victorian era, parents would give children drugs so they would sit still while getting their photo taken. 01:32

  3. Adults would often disguise themselves as drapes or furniture in order to hold infants during Victorian era photography without being seen. 02:25

10 Creepy Abandoned Places

And you thought those portraits were creepy...

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