Although not a 'paranormal' photo we will be featuring a range of fake, fraud and hoax photos and thought it appropriate to start with the very first staged photograph. Plus it is a facinating piece of macabre history!
A Photography Pioneer
The story of Bayard's 'Self Portrait as a Drowned Man' is important for two reasons. The first is that it is the first hoaxed photo and in a field such as the paranormal hoax photos are rife and all too common. The second reason is that it puts doubt on the two people credited for perfecting the photographic process Louis-Jacques Mandé Daguerre and William Henry Fox Talbert.
Bayard's photos also required that people in the photos kept their eyes closed for the full exposure time. This eliminated the ghosting effect one would get from blinking so many times through the exposure.
With Bayard's process perfected he was set to announce his findings to the French Academy of Sciences. Unfortunately Francois Arago convinced him to hold off his announcement for a while and as such Bayard missed his opportunity to be recognised as the inventor of the medium.
As for Francois Arago and why he told Bayard to hold off his announcement; Arago was good friends with Louis Daguerre who was the one credited with the title and the glory for his Daguerrotype process on January 9, 1839.
The first 'Fake' Photo
“The corpse which you see here is that of M. Bayard, inventor of the process that has just been shown to you. As far as I know this indefatigable experimenter has been occupied for about three years with his discovery. The Government which has been only too generous to Monsieur Daguerre, has said it can do nothing for Monsieur Bayard, and the poor wretch has drowned himself. Oh the vagaries of human life....! ... He has been at the morgue for several days, and no-one has recognised or claimed him. Ladies and gentlemen, you'd better pass along for fear of offending your sense of smell, for as you can observe, the face and hands of the gentleman are beginning to decay. “
Bayard would continue to invent photographic and processing methods up until his death at age 80 in 1887.
Although this picture is not paranormal in nature I saw fitting to start with it as the beginning of The Paranormal Guides 'A History of Fake Photographs' as it is the very first hoaxed photo. As you will see as the series continues the fakeries get more ambitious and at times a lot more ludicrous!