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.

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 e-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.