Some old photographs have their own special kind of magic. They have the power to transport us across the veil of time and back into a distant memory. They can tear down walls, replace what was lost, or return our ancestors to children once again. They can touch our souls with the raw beauty of time.
Other old photographs are just plain fucking weird. These are way better.
I’m addicted to unearthing these little nuggets of a “what the holy hell is that?” origin. Below, I will show you some of the oddest old pictures of the internet – and what information (if any) I have managed to collect. I have to warn you, though; old photos are a damned drug. You may find yourself losing hours trawling the internet in search of your own black and white weirdness.
Victorian “Headless” Photographs
And you thought “Horsemanning” was a new thing. Turns out, Victorians were mad for trick photography and beat the newfangled trend by about one hundred years. Photographers of the era used the Victorian equivalent to Photoshop, and manipulated images into improbable scenarios. This craze also included the more recognized spirit photography.
Oddball Family Photos
If you thought that weird as fuck naked family portrait floating around the internet was a product of our free-wheeling times, you would be wrong. Bad family photos have been around since the dawn of photography, as have been the photographers who warned against them.
Maybe this is an old Christmas portrait? I mean, you can see there’s an elf. But then why the fuck are there…foxes? I don’t know of foxes being associated with Christmas. Wait! Maybe they’re bunnies…with Father Easter? Forget it; I have no fucking clue what is going on in this photo.
It’s a Victorian slumber party! Think they’ll play “Place the tail, which is in no way to be regarded sexually, upon the image of an anatomically ambiguous beast of burden?”
You may commence the “she looked better from behind” jokes. Seriously, though: during the Victorian era, a woman wearing her hair down signified she was too young to wed. A young Victorian woman would have also worn a shorter skirt; although this photograph was taken from an angle that makes it impossible to determine the hemlines. Victorians considered a woman’s hair her crowning glory, only cut if she was ill. Given that’s all that’s actually seen of the young women in this photo, this father is basically dangling his healthy and virile daughters right under the noses of the dreadfully repressed men of the day.
This is one bad photo that has left its mark on the ages. You have seen it’s descendents in thousands of forms.
Before I show the last photograph of this category, I would like to offer a disclaimer. The Victorians practiced memento mori, where they took post-mortem photographs of recently departed loved ones in an effort to have a reminder of their time on earth. It was sometimes the only photograph they would ever possess of the departed, and the photos themselves have a hauntingly beautiful quality, The most sad and ethereal of all of these are the photographs of the ”sleeping angels.” I will not, under any circumstances, mock such a gorgeous, painful and macabre work.
That being said…
If the entire family is dead, just who in the hell commissioned this fucking photo?
The skeleton obsession
Victorians were obsessed with death. So much so, it became quite fashionable.
Because if the kids are doing it, you know it’s cool.
Were the Victorians making fun of their own tradition? The one I just refused to mock in the last section? Douchebags.
As if it couldn’t get any fucking weirder.
I love this guy! Just think of the bad-assery it took to hold that face for the entire exposure process!
Update: Turns out, the last two photographs are the work of an artist. My bad, and thank you for clearing up the oversight! It’s a damn shame, too – they were some of my favorites!
If you have any oddball old photographs, feel free to send them my way. If they’re wacky, creepy, or amusing enough, I’ll throw them on here for the world to enjoy. Then I’m not the only one with a weird old photo obsession. Works for me.