Eerie Hidden Mothers in Vintage Photos

Did you know that in vintage tintype photographs of infants mothers were often present in the photo but hidden by a veil? Subjects needed to remain still due to the longer exposure times required back then, so mothers were often asked to hold their children tightly while the portraits were being exposed. It was common practice back then, but the resulting photos are pretty eerie when you look at them now.

There’s an entire Flickr pool dedicated to found photos of hidden mothers.

Hidden Mother (via Retronaut)

  • Ryan Siemers

    Why not just take a photo of the Mother and Child together?

  • Anonymous

    With the more wealthy appearing children I wonder if it wasn’t the nanny or caregiver holding the children not the biological mother in which case it would make sense to obscure the mother’s identity.

  • Kyoshinikon

    Sounds logical

  • Dennis Marciniak

    In 100 years people will look back at planking in a similar fashion. I’ve always found the whole putting your “hand-in-jacket” pose from the same era very odd so I look at trends today and wonder what will people think in 50, 100, 200 years?

  • Hannah H

    “Why were all the orange women in the early 21st Century making a face like a duck?”

  • Ngrrsn

    Because the photographers were quacks?

  • Mel Brackstone Photo

    Hannah H your comment is priceless!!!!!!!!

  • stanimir stoyanov

    You see, phones used to have orange-tinted sensors!

  • Tzctplus -

    Because they wanted the children only!

  • Sharoncampagna

    Weird looking.

  • SimplyAnonymous

    Maybe they were just fugly and believed the superstition that they would break the camera.. XD

  • Ryan Siemers

    Insightful comment terriann. Certainly sounds like a strong possibility.

  • Anonymous

    I am pleased to say that this blog raises the belief of those reading it. I, for one, am really astonished. Please continue the good work.

  • Bev L


  • guest

    Not to mention all the fools who take pictures of themselves by holding the camera up to a large mirror.

  • Dovid Smith

    Photographers often traveled door to door and would charge per person.  The children would be put in their best clothes and photographed, but the mother would often not have her face in due to cost.

  • Hunter Coch

    Duckface *shudders*

  • Demi’s Little Black Box

    that’s what ropes are for….. 

  • Tristaninpdx

    I am going to assume that the mothers covered their faces so that the younger children (mostly infants) would not get excited and look at their mommies while the photographer was trying to do his work.

  • Rrosen

    Why not just drug the little buggers!

  • trollfacelol

    … or cognac