Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit

Departed Dearly (Dead in Detroit) Post Mortem Photography



Usually on seeing a post mortem photograph, my thoughts are of the deceased and the family, but today I am dwelling on Mr. Babas of Babas Studio in Detroit, who must have specialized as he took both. This type of outdoor memorial was less common in the United States than in Europe, perhaps both show families not long after joining the melting pot. At each job he would have the casket taken outside and positioned, arrange the flowers and family, and then not say "smile". A dreadful way to make a living, but then, as you can see, the alternative is worse. As in many photographs taken in the early 20th Century, the act of posing seems more important to the participants than the event. I am sure it took their mind off the loss and their own mortality for a spell and may have brought a certain closure through documentation.

Two Post Mortem Photographs, each 11 x 14, Babas Studio, Detroit. c. 1920 Collection Jim Linderman

2 comments:

  1. I knew this was done with criminals but never imagined families doing it. I have never understood why people want to keep images like this in the family album. Perhaps it's as you say cultural. It's beyond me.

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  2. I actually think the click of the camera indicates "done"...it's over...let's eat.

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