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John Myers Spirit Photographer

John Myers

Lifespan: 1895 - 1972

Hometown: London, England

John Myers was a Jewish-British spirit photographer who operated out of London in the 1930s. He first discovered Spiritualism in 1931 and was introduced to spirit photography by famed spirit photographer Ada Emma Deane, who encouraged Myers to take up the practice himself. His first spirit photograph, taken in 1932, was of renowned Jewish writer Israel Zangwill and received praise in a headline titled “A Perfect Spirit Photograph”.[1]

Myers’ faith made him unique and helped bridge the gap between Judaism and Spiritualism. One rabbi voiced support in a newspaper article titled, “Jewry’s Bravest Rabbi: Great Scholar Vouches for a Spirit Photograph”, stating “what occurred in my house when Myers took those pictures is perfectly genuine”.[2]

Myers was accused of fraud when a journalist secretly marked plates during a seance, when Myers developed the photographs two of the plates that were not marked contained spirits. He was accused of substituting them. It was stated that Myers produced spirit photographs by cutting out pictures from old newspapers and magazines, hedging them with cotton-wool, and representing them as spirit faces.[3] This claim was refuted by Jame Coates who stated he was a “man of perfect integrity” and he had received many letters from sitters who recognized the spirits of deceased relatives in his spirit photographs.[4]

An article printed in 1933, titled “John Myers Undergoes Rigid Photographic Test”, describes a set of experiments performed with Myers. They took place at Mrs. Dora Head’s Photographic Studio, 1, Oxford Street, London, on November 6th. During the tests, sitters provided their own plates and loaded them in the professional studio’s cameras. Two spirit photographs were obtained, one of which was described as a “skotograph” as it was not the result of ordinary photographic exposure. The sitters stated, “we are satisfied that genuine supernormal results were obtained”.[5]

Another prominent accusation occurred when Herbert Sheed, a press photographer, claimed that the image of Zangwill produced in Myers’ first spirit photograph was taken from an existing photograph whose rights he owned, and thus constituted a copyright violation. Sheed reproduced an exact imitation of Myers’ spirit photograph as evidence and demanded royalty fees. At stake were not only claims of fraud, but whether intellectual property laws governed likenesses reproduced under the guise of spirit photography. Myers did not dispute it was the same picture and gave the explanation that “he may have thought his favorite picture onto the plate”. The issue would remain unresolved.[6]

Myers would continue taking spirit photographs and claimed to receive the following message from deceased spirit photographer, William Hope:

“If you take my advice, you will have nothing more to do with tests,” said Hope, in his old Lancashire accent. “I do not believe in them. You just carry on and try to do the best you can for everybody. Never mind what anybody says. This is Billie Hope of Heaven, not of Crewe.”

Psychic News – May 5th, 1934

[1] Psychic News – June 25, 1932
[2] Psychic News – July 23, 1932
[3] Sunday Dispatch – Sep. 25, 1932
[4] International Psychic Gazette – Dec. 1932
[5] Light – Nov. 17, 1933
[6] Prediction – July 1936

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