Conjuring Ghosts: An Intro to Spirit Photography - Atlas Obscura Experiences

Conjuring Ghosts: An Intro to Spirit Photography

Members Only
1.5 hours
See Dates
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What We’ll Do

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!

About Your Host
JR Pepper
JR Pepper

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, 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.

What Else You Should Know

Access to this online experience is free for Atlas Obscura Members. Unlock more wonder by becoming a member today!

Once registered, you can access the Zoom room for this experience through your confirmation email or Eventbrite account. Atlas Obscura online experiences are recommended for attendees age 13+.

This online experience will be recorded. A temporary link to the recording will be provided in a follow-up email to all ticket holders within 72 hours after the event. Access to this recording will be available for seven days.

We provide closed captioning for all of our online Member Experiences, as well as transcripts upon request. Please reach out to us at if you have any questions, requests, or access needs.

This event is one of Atlas Obscura’s Membership Experiences. At Atlas Obscura, our mission has always been to inspire wonder and curiosity about the incredible world we all share. Now, more than ever, there’s a need to stay connected—not only to our sense of wonder, but to each other.

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Dates and Availability
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