Can a photograph provide proof of the afterlife?
In the 1800s, photographers like William Mumler and William Hope claimed to be capable of taking photographs of ghosts, proving that there was a means to communicate with the spirit world. Spirit photography, as this style came to be known, had many believers, and many critics. Chief among the skeptics was the infamous P.T. Barnum - who even spoke at a trial to prove Spirit Photography was a huge fraud - but still, people believed in Mumler’s "ghosts." Were these ghosts real? How were they created? And, why were so many people, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, convinced of their legitimacy?
In this 90-minute virtual experience, professional eccentric, absurd lecturer, and modern-day spirit photographer JR Pepper will discuss how the influential Spiritualism movement gave rise to the heyday of spirit photography. We'll explore the history of this ethereal art form, meet some of its most famous and obscure practitioners, and learn about the methods used to create "ghosts" from back in the day. We'll finish off the night with a walk-through on how you can capture your own spirit photograph using Photoshop or cyanotypes!
JR Pepper is a lecturer, photographer, cemetery tour guide, and curator with an MA in art history and photography. Pepper is recognized for her work and research related to spirit photography and has been featured on Vice.com, Musee Magazine, and Dave Thompson’s Haunted America FAQ. With over fifteen years in the photography and retouching industry, she has worked on catalogs and projects for Guy Bourdin, Annie Leibowitz, The Brooklyn Museum, and The Jim Henson Company. She has been lecturing about the more bizarre aspects of art and history for nearly a decade. Pepper is currently the digital imaging specialist for the famous Burns Archive and moonlights as a tour guide at Green-wood Cemetery.
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