Ever look at one of your family photos and wonder if they are dead or alive? You’re not alone. It’s one of the most common questions my clients ask. That’s why I’m offering a Masterclass about mourning, memorial pictures, spirit photos, and the un-dead.

One of my skills is seeing the details in a picture. The one clue that brings all the other evidence together into the big reveal. I’m offering this Masterclass to help you recognize the living from the dead. What you’ll learn will be better than any episode of The Walking Dead.

A little while ago, I posted a photo of a family on social media and asked, “what do you see?” The top response was that the mother was deceased. Not quite. Every member of that family was alive at the time the photographer took that portrait.

It was an illustration of how misunderstood and misidentified images relating to death are. Search post mortem photos on YouTube and you’ll see videos of old photos. The problem with them is that many of the people photographed weren’t dead at the time of the picture.

Once you’ve registered you’ll receive a link to a Zoom meeting room. You don’t have to have a Zoom account to participate in the Masterclass.


All it takes is a quick look at the 1900 census to see how everpresent death was to our ancestors. Our foremothers and forefathers lost many a child due to disease and infirmities.

During the Civil War, it was young men whose lives were cut short. Spirit photographers sold their customers the idea that they could capture the ghosts of deceased family members. A grieving Mary Todd Lincoln sought comfort in those images.

There were rules for living and for dying. Mourning rituals included waking the dead in parlors and wearing certain colors. Memorial cards and jewelry could be passed out at funerals. If you didn’t have a photograph of the deceased while they were alive, photographers that specialized in post mortem images could immortalize the loved one with a picture.

This masterclass is the first in a series of lectures on photo history and family history. It’s being offered for the special price of $25. per person

In this Masterclass you’ll:

  • Learn about the history of portraying the dead.
  • Understand how and why our families utilized pictures of deceased family members.
  • Learn how to study the clues in the picture such as format, props, and setting.
  • Develop the skills to identify mourning and memorial images in your family collection.
  • Be able to recognize the fashion clues that suggest a person in mourning. Black wasn’t the only color.
  • Learn which photographer was responsible for confusing the living and the dead.
  • Discover more about spirit photographers like William Mumler and how they deceived their clients.
  • Learn how to tell the dead from the living in an image.

This class will be held on October 24, 2019 at 2 pm EST.

If you miss the live recording you’ll have one week to watch the recording.



How long do I have access to the recording?

If you miss the live Masterclass you’ll have one week to watch the recording.

Can I share this with friends?

I’ve kept the cost of this Masterclass low to enable everyone to sign up. Why not sign up with a group of friends and host a watch party. Hint, hint: I’d love to see pictures.

Do I have to have a Zoom account?

No Zoom account is necessary but you may be prompted to download software to watch the class.

Can I get a refund?

I understand that schedules change. If you find that you’re unable to watch the live session and the recorded version, I’d be happy to refund your registration. There are no refunds within 48 hours of the Masterclass.

Can I submit a question beforehand?

Absolutely! This Masterclass is for you. You can email me questions at photodetective@maureentaylor.com Use Dead or Alive in the subject field.

Can I ask questions during the presentation?

Yes you can. While all participants will be on mute there is a chat room where you can post questions during the class.


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