Memory, Like Life Itself, Is Fleeting

Take Care of What You Have, Because You Will Lose It in the End

Memento-Mori-2“Memento Mori” describes a style of photography that was all the rage in the Victorian era. Sitting for a photograph was a grueling, expensive event. The glass negatives needed to be exposed for long periods of time, and any motion at all would result in a blurry picture.

That’s why dead people made such excellent candidates for early photography.

Unlike today when we all have cell phone cameras and video recorders and have more images of our loved ones than we know what to do with, at the turn of the 19th Century, sometimes the only picture of your loved one is the one taken after he or she died. “Memento Mori” was a thriving business. Everybody who was anybody had their dead babies, children, wives or husbands immortalized by the unblinking eye of the camera

Take our “Corpse of the Day”, after the jump. It wasn’t always easy to tell who the living person in the photograph was.

tumblr_m9d49ljkGs1qdxn2po4_1280

No, that’s not a ghost holding the little dead child. Photographers would employ tricks, such as putting assistants under shrouds in more-or-less hamfisted attempts to hold up the little corpse. With an adult, sometimes the photographer would rig up a stand of some sort and brace up the cadaver and have his brother or someone stand next to the dearly departed. (And doesn’t big brother look THRILLED?)

Other times, however, it was far easier to tell the living from the dead. Like in the next picture. Everybody’s dead.

tumblr_m852r6GaHd1raj2eao1_1280There’s no text accompanying the photo, but if you take a look at this lovely family, it would seem as if party or parties unknown took it upon themselves to drill these lovely people, once each, in the noggin.

The point is this. Never assume things are going to stay like they are. One minute you’re planning your big weekend, and suddenly, like a shot from the dark, you realize that things are never going to be the same ever again.

Enjoy the now. It’s the only one you get.

 

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