Chances are you’ve never heard of William Hope but in the early 20th century his photographs petrified just about anybody who seen them.
In the 1920’s Britain was obsessed with the paranormal and Hope was no exception.
In an attempt to learn more about ghosts and ghouls, Hope began taking photographs of them and terrifying his audiences, according to the Daily Mail.
As part of a group of photographers known as the Crewe Circle and supported by many big figures of the time such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Hope released this series of photographs.
As you can probably guess – shortly afterwards investigators discovered that Hope had not been taking pictures of actual spirits but rather had been using a photographic process called double exposure, where a single image is created by using the same film several times.
Either way I bet they still frightened people in the early 1900’s half to death.
Sarah Ledjmi, collections and exhibitions assistant at the National Media Museum in Bradford, said:
(There was) this idea of the photograph becoming the medium through which the spirits appear and communicate with the living. That’s what people who believed in the photographs hoped would happen.
Interestingly, people would send their own photographs into Hope and ask him to bring the spirits into the picture.
People would send their pictures and then he revealed the spirits in the pictures, or he would take a picture and then there would be an extra in the photograph.
Of course there was also a question that maybe this would be a fraudulent technique. The technique used is double exposure.
People were adamant they were recognising their wife or their father. Some of the pictures you don’t have a well-defined face, so maybe that’s why people would recognise their relatives.
The phase of so called ‘spirit photography’ died out shortly after Hope’s death as more rational photography took over. Still, it’s rather fascinating how terrifying these photographs must’ve been back in the day.
Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.