A recent conversation with colleagues prompted me to research post-mortem photography.
-What kind of conversation could possibly lead to that?
I wasn't going to share that information, but since you asked...
One of my colleagues had been delivering something to another office when she began to admire the photo collage on her wall. There were beautiful photos of a newborn in different outfits, lying on the father's chest, in her mother's arms, in a fur-lined basket etc. Then when this colleague got to the end of the photos she noticed one more — a photo of a small infant coffin at a cemetery.
Apparently, this woman's sister had a baby that was born stillborn and they had the photos professionally taken. So basically, the photographer took photos of the child after death, dressing her in different outfits and posing her. I find this very disturbing. So... I looked it up.
The practice began in the 1800s and the photos were considered a luxury because they were expensive. This was a way to honor the dead, to keep a memory of them. The setting would be reminiscent of the memory the survivors had of the deceased.
While this doesn't seem as morbid (maybe because they are in black and white) the idea of doing this today, with a variety of poses, bothers me. (Okay, the child on the right, who looks alive, but is really dead, is still very disturbing, even in black and white).
I found this Web site: Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep where their mission statement is —
"To introduce remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with the free gift of professional portraiture. We believe these images serve as an important step in the family's healing process by honoring their child's legacy."
I see what they are trying to do, and I applaud the organization and volunteers for giving their time, but I still think it's odd.