‘Spirit Photo’ Forgeries Prove Fake Photo Controversies Existed Way Before Adobe

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Spirit photography, a type of photography which claims to capture ghosts and spirits via a photographic process, dates back to the middle of the 19th century. Photographers would act as “mediums” to the spiritual realm and do their best to pull a fast one on unsuspecting customers.

This particular series of images was captured by photographers Craig and George Falconers, a pair of charlatans who worked in the early part of the 20th century.

The duo would take part in these séances and allow spectators to watch the entire process of loading the film, shooting the photographs and processing the prints — the spectators seemed to be impressed, considering the two profited off their endeavors.

Here’s a collection of some of the prints, which are currently up for auction at the Swann Auction House:

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Of course, their little charade couldn’t last forever. In 1931, the two were arrested and convicted in South Africa after two undercover police officers took part in one of their schemes. The cops discovered the two were where using cutouts and cotton to capture these “spirits” and their accompanying “ectoplasm.”

Even then, though, the two simply paid a fine and continued on with their forgeries for another few years.

(via Slate)

Image credits: Images courtesy of Swann Auction House

  • Eden Wong


  • markz

    having worked in a real “Photoshop” through the late 1980’s early 1990’s yeh guess what? Adobe Photoshop mostly only digitised what we had been doing for the last 100+ years in camera and in the dark room.

    in these days when any skilled “in camera” work such as Lewis Morely’s somewhat recent self portrait is met with howls of “FAKE” and “Photoshop!” by the public it seem strange that such obvious old school trickery would fool people but you only have to look at early movies like the surviving stills many of the faked war “documentaries” to realise much of the public was untrained in both what these real scenes looked like (if such scenes even existed at all) and what a fake image looked like. Even the concept that photo’s and film could be faked was not universally held


    In my country there is a saying, that goes something like this: “Where are the sheep – there are also trimmers”.

  • James

    Is this new to anyone over 12 years old? What a pointless article.