Home

Photographs

Photographers

Archives

Blog

Fredrick A. Hudson

Lifespan: 1812 - 1889

Hometown: London, England

Studio: 177 Holloway Road, London, England; 2 Kensinton Park Rd, London, England

Frederick A. Hudson was a pioneering British photographer who operated in London during the 1870s and specialized in capturing spirit images. He is widely considered to be the first spirit photographer in Britain.

Hudson set up a photography studio on Holloway Road in London and began capturing spirit photographs in 1872. The studio featured a small room, hidden behind a partition, where mediums such as Georgiana Houghton or Mrs. Guppy would sometimes sit during sessions. Mrs. Guppy was particularly instrumental in producing Hudson’s first spirit photograph. In the mid-1870s, Hudson relocated his studio to Kensington Park Road in London.[1]

One sitter described the process of obtaining a photo as follows:

Having arrived at Mr. Hudson’s we have selected the plates and cleaned them, and entering the dark room with Mr. Hudson, I myself have put them in the bath, and have not lost sight of them until they were fully developed. We have each time received a photograph of the spirit as promised.

The Medium and Daybreak – Feb. 18, 1882

Hudson was accused of fraud in 1872 by fellow spiritualist William Henry Harrison. He claimed that Hudson created spirit photographs by using double exposure on the negative plate, and several individuals came forward, admitting they had dressed up and posed as fake ghosts.[2]

Psychical researcher Harry Price alleged that Hudson used a special camera made by Howell, a well-known London manufacturer of conjuring equipment. According to Price, when the plate was inserted into the camera, a lever would bring a wax paper positive of a “spirit” into contact with the sensitive plate. This “spirit” image, along with the picture of the sitter, would then be captured on the plate, resulting in the final spirit photograph.[3]

Hudson’s business eventually declined, with one client saying “The greatest marvel of all to me is, that Mr. Hudson has not been visited by multitudes instead of by units. However, there is no accounting for taste.”[4] Due to poor health, lack of income, and damage to his reputation, Hudson closed the studio and took his final spirit photograph on January 18th, 1877.[1]

[1] Psychological Review – Mar. 1882
[2] The Spiritualist – Oct. 15, 1872
[3] Confessions of a Ghost-Hunter – 1936
[4] The Spiritualist – Jan. 5, 1877

Photographs:

Archive Items: