The Picture Show
2:01 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

Supernatural (And Supercreepy) Spirit Photos Of William Hope

In the early 1900s, there was a photographer in England who claimed he could communicate with the dead — and he could prove it: Spirits would actually appear in front of the camera for William Hope. So if you lost a loved one in World War I, for example, you could get a portrait made by Hope, and your loved one just might make a ghostly appearance.

Today, of course, we readily recognize the tricks of double exposure. Hope would superimpose old photos of the deceased in his portraits — and he made a killing doing it, if you'll pardon the pun.

A collection of his photos has been shared by England's National Media Museum on Flickr. The introductory text explains that although several investigations were attempted, and although Hope was indeed exposed for fraud, the public continued to embrace his medium.

Even with all of that context, there's still something incredibly creepy about these photos. Hope put a frame around the enduring human preoccupation with death. With Halloween just around the corner, this seemed like the perfect time to resurrect Hope's dead.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.