Real Ghost Pictures or Early Trick Photography? You Decide.

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Our Unique Collection of Weird Edwardian Spirit Photographs

These alleged real ghost pictures are from a series of glass photographic plates that were recently found. You can click the ghostly images for larger prints from these photographic glass plates. Please share your thoughts at the bottom of the page.

Real Ghost Pictures and Spirit PicturesMy friend Violet Kipling was an expert on real ghost pictures. She has written the commentary below for a lecture. Vi is not suggesting that all of them are real ghost pictures but some may make you stop and think.

I have only included what I think are the best 12 Real Ghost Pictures we have on file. These are the ones that I feel are the most real. The Spiritualist commentary makes many assumptions. In these early days of photography, it was much harder to use photographic camera tricks or special effects.

Ghosts caught on Camera Video


Real Ghost Pictures on Glass Plate

The argument says that glass plates could not be tampered with and the miraculous appearance of the spirit person’s signatures gives weight to the fact that these are real ghost pictures. I have written a column in Fate and Fortune magazine now for many years and studied the thousands of ways that cameras can produce apparently real ghost pictures. I am not convinced by these pictures.

Some of the ways trickery is used by scratching directly on to the silver photographic chemicals on the glass. This would create the ‘ectoplasm’ we see in some images. It would also account for the alleged signatures from the spirit people including that of the dead  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He was a famous advocate of Spiritualism.

Real Ghost Pictures can also be faked up by rubbing away an area of the glass plate and then putting the plates on top of one another. This would account for the strange mists and with faces in them. You will note also that many of the ‘real ghosts’ have different lighting to the main pictures which suggest to me that the images were taken at different times.

A Spiritualist’s Commentary

Violet KiplingThe slides we are going to look at today are taken from 500 original glass slides which a Spiritualist Minister, Mr. Alan Millichamp, holds in trust.  The ones we are looking at today are all those where the spirit extras have been positively identified and are not “just somebody who appeared on the print”.

Whilst the original slides have been copied to use in our modern projectors, you will be able to see from the quality of the photographs on the slides. It shows how very old some of them are.  Many were taken in the early days of photography when it was necessary to sit for five minutes. The camera lens was left open for this time in order for the image to be imprinted on the photographic plate.  It was vital that the sitters did not move during this time. It can be seen on one or two of the slides where the sitters did actually move. Perhaps they sneezed? It was not unknown for sitters’ heads to be placed between unobtrusive wooden clamps which would hold them still without too much distress to the sitter.


When Spiritualism came to England there were many forms of psychic phenomena manifesting. With the advent of cameras, spirit extras were only too happy to use all available energy to impress their images upon the photographic plate. This was presented as a message to their loved one of their continuing existence.

It was found that some people had the proper energies for the world of spirit to use them as photographic mediums. It was possible to actually book a Photographic Sitting and know that the chances of a friend, or loved one, appearing on the photograph were very high indeed.

Psychic Photography is a phenomenon which requires a physical medium for its production.  In physical mediumship, everyone is able to witness the phenomena produced. In the case of spirit photography, we can all, even today, witness the phenomena produced by these mediums.

It was known that it was possible for a spirit extra to be found upon the photograph at a Photographic Sitting. It was still necessary to prevent all possibility of fraud. People used to take their own photographic plates to the medium. After signing it, they placed it in the camera and remove it once the photograph had been taken. This prevented the medium from ever actually touching the plate.

Many circles developed photographic mediumship. One of the most well-known is probably the circle in Crewe in which the medium William Hope sat. He was responsible for the production of many of the photographs we are going to look at today.

Ectoplasm Head Materialises?

ectoplasm spirit head materialisesThis an example of a William Hope photograph and the spirit extra is a relative to the sitter.

William Hope was the medium referred to who had a circle in Crewe and he became famous for the spirit extras which appeared when he took the photographs or was in the room.

A lot of psychic photographs are identified as to their origin by the style as it were and most of William Hope’s photographs showed the spirit extra with an ectoplasmic surround.

Real Ghost Pictures of Murderer

Ghost Picture of MurdererThis picture was taken in Brazil.  Whilst the photographer taking this photograph, which was a time exposure where the sitters had to sit for a while, was not a Spiritualist he actually saw, through his camera lens, the woman who has transposed herself onto this photograph.

Two weeks after the photograph was taken the man confessed to the spirit extra’s murder.  (Be sure your sins will find you out!)

Real Spirit Faces?

Real Spirit FacesThis is the old Middlesbrough Church and the photograph was taken at a Good Friday Rally.

The principal chemist from Stanton Stavely Ironworks, a non-Spiritualist, took the photographs and developed the plates himself.

Can you see where the two at the front has moved  –  again, it is a time exposure.

Graveyard Spirit of Dead Baby

Baby Graveyard SpiritThis grave is in Middleham Cemetery in Manchester.  A gentleman who had lost his wife went into a Spiritualist Church and asked to see a medium.

A private sitting was arranged and all the medium could get for him was “go and photograph the grave”.

He did so and this is the result.  The medium was not aware, of course, that his wife and baby had died.  The sitter did not that his wife was pregnant.

Photo of Spirit Ectoplasm Face

Spirit Ectoplasm FaceAnother William Hope photograph.  The sitter is Mrs Dawson whose husband, Harold, was the President of the Spiritualists’ National Union.

The spirit extra on the photograph is a relative.

This archive is part of the history of the SNU and it is vital that this, and others like it, are not lost.

physical-mediumship-photographPhysical Mediumship Photograph

Another circle photograph.

How many faces?

There are definitely two, maybe 3, or more

 Spirit Writing Photograph

spirit writingThis is a signed photograph of Cyril Hartley and the spirit extra was one of his relatives.

Spirit writing is done by a medium who is in a trance in which messages are given by spirit while the medium’s hand writes the messages on its own accord.

Shown here is a different phenomenon in that the spirit writing has miraculously appeared on the glass photographic plates.

Real Ghost Photography

This picture of spirit writing was not taken with a film in a camera.  Someone held the plate in its light-proof paper in his or her hand during a circle and then it was developed and the result was?  –  J F Smedley.

Real Ghosts 24

This strange photograph brings into sharp focus the real meaning of the words ‘overshadowing’.  This beautiful guide is just one of many such people who work with us within our circles and development groups.  The woman sitter was a medium and she did know the helper who showed herself and the Indian guide.

Ghost writing 28

The writing on this photograph reads:  “Dear friends, we shall do our best to prove to your satisfaction that we are still able and eager to interest ourselves in your welfare and all that we ask is a fair and honest judgment.”  Needless to say, these aims of the spirit world continue to this day.

spirit pic 30

This image shows examples of psychic energy that is around when we have a sitting with a medium.

Spirit image 35

A little girl was asked by spirit helpers to hold out her hands.  She asked if she was to be given something and received a rose.


The real ghost photographs show how eager and willing the spirit people are to work with us. They will continue to amaze us with the manner in which they continue to get across their message of eternal life and unconditional love.

Spirit Communication

Communication of any description, however, is two-way and it is up to us to meet the spirit world halfway and give them the instruments for producing such phenomena.  We must leave cameras in the circle or unopened film.  Permission should be asked to take photographs in the circle, perhaps with infra-red film, which our pioneers did not have access to.  We must organize Psychic, or Spirit Sittings, and take photographs of each other to prove who are photographic mediums. It is necessary to insist that EVERY photograph is printed, even the so-called spoiled ones. They could be the interesting ones.

Do not let the Photographic Department of your local Pharmacy, consign Grandmother to the waste film;  she has taken too much time and effort to be with us and deserves every opportunity to be photographed in all her finery.  We may pay for wasted paper but at least we won’t have lost something we will treasure throughout our earthly lives.

More Photos or Get the Book

Phantoms on FilmAmazing Ghost Pictures!

About Post Author

Craig Hamilton-Parker

Craig is a TV medium, author and mystical teacher. I will approve and respond to comments that are short, well-written and on topic. For personal questions and experiences please post on our forums.
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