It’s often remarked that a picture is worth a thousand words, but in an age where pictures can be easily manipulated and misleading, the words they say are often cheap, hollow and false. Making even one thousand words an inadequate or even worthless record of something that does, or does not exist, at least not as the image may suggest (whatever the genuine state of the subject matter may or may not be).
We live in a world riddled with recording devices, security cameras, dash-cams and around 4.8 billion people carrying a smart phone capable of capturing video footage (according to Statistica.com, 2020). So you’d think there would be no shortage of recorded events of alleged paranormal activity? An endless flow of events, occurring simultaneously around the world. After all, the dead will always greatly outnumber the living, so theoretically, as the populations of the dead and the living continue to grow, then statistically, sightings of paranormal events should increase exponentially?
That much is actually true, there isn’t a shortage of alleged paranormal events captured in photographs, or even filmed all around the world, reddit.com gives a glimpse into the plethora of claims (principle can also be applied to UFO sightings). The only problem is, very few of these claims are even remotely “convincing” at all. For instance, I spent about an hour searching for an example of something I would present as highly convincing/compelling to accompany this post, but in the end, I was unable to find anything I felt to be truly worthwhile (others may disagree and find that assessment inaccurate/unfair. If I had to link any of the images or footage to check out, purely for interests sake, I’d recommend this clip).
I’ve worked with security cameras and assessing footage in the past (for primarily non-paranormal reasons), you do capture things that can seem odd, at first glance. But there is seldom an unusual occurrence, without an explanation. Even something as trivial as changes in air pressure can create seemingly unnatural “activity”. With some perseverance, most if not all of these anomalous events can be recreated intentionally. The same can be said for anomalies found in photographs, “orbs” of illuminated dust particles, tiny insects appearing as wisps of light to infrared cameras, etc. But just because something can be easily faked, or only occurs in extremely rare circumstances, doesn’t mean the genuine article does not/can not exist, in its truest conceptual state.
But I’m not here to debate the legitimacy of the paranormal phenomena of ghost sightings (not today), this is meant purely as a reflection on the readily available, famous photographs, alleged to be evidence of paranormal events. So all said and done, what does humanity have to show, in the way of photographs capturing said paranormal events, ghosts, specifically?
The following photographs are those that for many years now the western world have let rise to the surface of what is considered to be photographs of possibly paranormal events. I culled the images down by popularity and overall quality. Many photographs still regarded as photographs of paranormal activity, have either been proven as hoaxes, false “spirit photography” or accidental double exposures, yet remain in circulation with groups interested in researching the paranormal.
Long exposure photograph, taken by Sybell R. Corbet, December 5, 1891.
THE GHOST OF THE TULIP STAIRCASE
Photograph taken by Reverend Ralph Hardy, 1st of January, 1966.
THE BROWN LADY OF RAYNHAM HALL
Photograph taken by Captain Hubert C. Provand in September, 1936.
THE AMITYVILLE GHOST OF JOHN DEFEO
This photograph is likely the most famous photograph of an alleged ghost ever taken. Partly because it embodies what all great photographs seek to capture, a compelling story. The story that accompanies this photograph is entwined with the famous murders, known to most people as The Amityville Horror (due to the popularity of the books and films made about the events).
On November 13th, 1974, around 3 AM, Ronald Joseph DeFeo Jr. armed with a .35 caliber lever action Marlin 336C rifle, murdered his entire family in their beds. Father Ronald DeFeo Sr. (44), Mother Louise Marie Brigante DeFeo (42), Sister Dawn (18), Sister Allison (13), Brother Marc (12), and youngest Brother John Matthew (9). Ronald DeFeo made a plea for insanity, claiming that he was afflicted with phantom voices plotting against him, which led to the murders of his family. Though Ronald DeFeo was a user of heroin and LSD and was diagnosed with a mental disorder, it was decided that he was aware of the decisions he made at the time of the murders. On November 21st, 1975 he was found guilty for 6 counts of 2nd degree murder, and received 25 to life in prison. Ronald DeFeo is still being held at the Sullivan Correctional Facility, to this day.
In 1976, 2 years after the murders, professional photographer Gene Campbell took the above photograph. Working with Ed and Lorraine Warren in their paranormal research of the Amityville home (people love saying that word, Amityville. Great location for something horrific to happen, name was seemingly destined to be used as an eerie title for an atrocious event). Long story short, the eerie, youthful face above the stairwell, is believed to be the ghost of little nine year old John Matthew DeFeo.
Though, it has been suggested that it could have been the face of Paul Bartz, a young man who was assisting the paranormal team at the time. The white of the eyes an effect from infrared photography.
In the end people are going to look at photographs like these or alleged paranormal footage and they’re going to make up their own mind on the validity of the source. Ultimately however, the purpose of photographing the paranormal, filming unusual occurrences isn’t solely to convince anyone of anything, but to entertain (part of the driving force behind the spiritualist movement was upper-class parlour entertainment).
The unusual, otherworldly and strange entertains us, because its not necessarily demanding “this is real”, but rather proposing the question:
“How much do you really know about the nature of your world?”