Spirit photography, an effect created through multiple exposure, was a rather fashionable hoax in early photography. When the medium was still new and mysterious, “the idea of a photograph capturing the latent image of a spirit seemed quite possible.” (Kristi Finefield) This coincided with a rising interest in the paranormal (séances, spiritism).
The album “Spirit Photographs” shows a kind of photograph that came in the wake of photography used in research, especially after Røntgen’s discovery in 1895, which also had significant impact on modern modes of thought. One could reveal the invisible – an inner life. The person who gathered these photographs collected pictures from various countries, probably in the late 1890s. Most appear to be American (…). The photographers are not identified in the text under the pictures, but those photographed are named, both the living and the spirits. (..)
If we carefully examine the pictures in this album we can conjecture that the photographer has worked with long exposure combined with movement, laying negatives over each other and using lights from several shots.
More Spirit Photography
The Spirit Photographs of William Hope (The Public Domain Review)
A Ghostly Image: Spirit Photographs (Kristi Finefield, Library of Congress)