Last weekend I was in New York City for The Genealogy Event. If I’m going to be in New York City, I always make time for a visit to the Metropolitan Museum. I can’t resist their photo exhibits. This time I saw Faking It : Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop. It was fascinating!
Spotting a manipulated photo in your family collection might be easy or difficult. It all depends on the technique. Here are some things to look for:
There were technical limitations with early photography. One of them was the lack of color. Customers wanted their images to look as realistic as possible so photographers developed ways to add color to their images.
- Ghostly images in the background
In the 1860s and early 1870s some photographers took double-exposure images and suggested that spirits were present.
- The addition of a background
It was possible to add a background into an image. If you see a person posed in front of an unlikely landscape then it’s possible that this image is a composite of two different images.
- A person added in
Years ago I bought one of these at a photo sale. Look closely at the background. There is a woman the wrong proportion to the rest of the family. She’s also wearing a dress from the early 1890s while everyone else is dressed in the styles of the late 1890s.
You can see a line around her head that illustrates the place where the studio dropped her into the scene.
- Multiple poses of the same person
Here’s an example.
This image dates from circa 1910, but this technique was common before this date.
This young woman has three poses of herself combined into one photo.
Next week I’ll be back with a famous example based on two Civil War photos taken by the Brady studio.
Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor: