Boursnell, Robert A.
1832 – 1909
Robert A. Boursnell was a British spirit photographer and medium active in London from the 1880s to 1900s. He was married and had a son who was in the military, who stated he also communicated with spirits and they "rendered him signal services in cases of extreme emergency." Boursnell started as a professional photographer in the 1850s. When reusing photographic plates, he would frequently get an extra face on the resulting photos. His partner said he didn't clean the plates properly. In a moment of frustration, Boursnell broke the plate. After that, spirit pictures never appeared in Boursnell's photographs. In 1886, he was introduced to Spiritualism, and "to his great surprise" the spirits returned to his photographs. Boursnell created spirit…
Buguet, Édouard I.
1840 - 1901
Edouard Isidore Buguet was a French medium and spirit photographer who was active in London during the 1870s. He discovered his abilities after taking his first spirit photograph in 1866. He had been experiencing visions every night but paid no attention to them until he discovered an unexplained image in a photograph. A friend recognized the image as a sign of his medium abilities, leading Buguet to become a spirit photographer. During the early 1870s, Buguet was gaining recognition for his spirit photography in Paris. This caught the attention of Pierre-Gaetan Leymarie, a medium and chief editor of the Spiritualist newspaper Revue Spirite. Recognizing Buguet's abilities, Leymarie partnered with him and provided financial assistance to open a studio on 5…
Chase, Harvey E.
1845 - 1915
Harvey E. Chase was an American spirit photographer based in Cleveland, OH, active from the 1880s to 1910s. He was known for his ability to capture multiple spirit faces in a single photograph, as well as his spirit painting and slate writing skills. He was considered the leading spirit photographer in his area and was known for his talkative nature. Chase operated his spirit photography studio at 2550 Broadway in Cleveland, OH. The studio was shared with his son, who did not share his belief in Spiritualism. Visitors would enter on the first floor and go up a flight of stairs to the reception room of the studio. In addition, Chase would also take spirit photographs at seasonal meetings at…
Falconer, Craig & George
Craig & George Falconer were Scottish mediums and spirit photographers. They operated a studio in Edinburgh, Scotland from the 1920s through 1930s, with 100s of specimens on view. Their mother was also a well-known medium. Their photos typically contained a spirit face inside an ectoplasmic cloud and provided customers with “amazing evidence of continued existence beyond the material world.” To prove their authenticity, the Falconer Brothers allowed customers to load their camera with fresh film and closely observe the entire process from exposure to development. They also specialized in developing thoughtograph and skotograph images. One customer stated: This photograph is to me most convincing visible proof that there is intelligence and consultation shown by communications from the other side. Knowing…
Fallis, Sylvanus W.
1842 - 1908
Sylvanus Whitfield Fallis was a lesser-known photographer who made a name for himself in the late 19th century. Operating out of 219 Wells Street in Chicago, Fallis was known for his unique spirit photography. His photographs commonly featured multiple faces and as many as 20 individual spirits appeared. Fallis gained recognition for capturing several spirit photographs which included Abraham Lincoln. One sitter described his technique as follows: This plate was not exposed in a camera, but, suitably protected from the light, was held between the hands during ten consecutive sittings. It is a remarkable production and the finest specimen of this class I have seen. Light - Mar. 13th, 1909 In 1905, Fallis was accused of fraud when he produced…
Foster, Frank N.
Grand Rapids, MI
Frank N. Foster was a spirit photographer and medium who operated out of Grand Rapids, MI from the 1880s through the 1900s. In the 1900s he moved to the Camp Chesterfield Spiritualist community and was a resident spirit photographer. He also traveled from city to city to take spirit photographs in different settings without his own studio. One letter notes that his photos have two to five spirit faces and all the photographs taken in Philadelphia featured Native Americans and Quakers. An advertisement in The Sunflower lists spirit photographs for $1.10 with experience of "over 20 years". An article printed in The Boston Globe describes experiments of seances and spirit photography that were successful. In 1922, the book Revelations of…
Hazelton, Benson C.
1823 - 1892
Benson C. Hazelton was a spirit photographer who operated out of Boston. He was born in 1823 and died in 1892. He was regarded as a medium sized man with a quick nervous temperament and a very business-like manner. Hazelton began his career practicing portrait photography and he also operated a gallery. His studio was originally located at 140 Washington Street on the third floor and later at 294 Washington Street. He began producing spirit photographs in 1873 and claimed to be perplexed by the manifestations as to anyone else. He stated he offered a fair opportunity to investigators but "nothing would satisfy except the rising of the dead, and then they would have to rise everyday, for a long…
1863 - 1933
William Hope was a British spirit photographer who operated in Crewe, England during the early 1900s to the 1930s and claimed to have photographed over 2,500 spirits. He established a group of six spirit photographers, known as The Crewe Circle. He was described as an intelligent and hardworking man, with a high forehead, aquiline face, large honest blue eyes, and a gray mustache. He had a pleasant North country accent and his hands were those of a carpenter not suited for sleight-of-hand tricks. Hope took his first spirit photograph in 1905. He was capturing an image of a colleague when, during the developing process, he noticed an additional figure in the photograph. The figure was recognized as the spirit of…
Hudson, Fredrick A.
1812 - 1889
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. One sitter described the process of obtaining a photo as follows: Having arrived at Mr. Hudson’s we have selected the plates…
Keeler, William M.
1848 - 1931
Dr. William Mead Keeler was an American spirit photographer who operated from the 1880s through 1920s. Early references have him living in Boston but by 1900 he has a Washington D.C. address. An 1898 New York Times article calls him "one of the leading spirit photographers" at Lily Dale, New York spiritualist camp. Keeler's brother was famed slate writing medium Pierre L. O. A. Keeler. Keeler is claimed to have taken over 4000 spirit photographs. He offered both in person and mail order spirit photographs for sale. His mail order spirit photographs offered "to secure photographs of those gone before when the applicant cannot be present" for a price of $3. A letter in an 1883 issue of Gallery of…
1841 - 1929
Alexander Martin was an American spirit photographer based in Denver, CO, active in the 1900s through 1920s. He was regarded as a kind and simple-minded old man, renowned for his skill in capturing multiple spirit faces and children's spirits in his photographs. Famed writer Arthur Conan Doyle even made a special trip from England to Denver for a sitting with Martin, and afterward referred to him as "one of the top three or four good spirit photographers in the world." Martin was originally located at 1639 Platte Street, Denver, CO. The gallery was a large empty room with only a camera, photographer's screens, sitter's chair, and visitor chairs. The dark room was in the basement, reached by passing through another…
Mumler, William H.
1832 - 1884
William H. Mumler was an American spirit photographer active in Boston and New York in the 1860s and 1870s. He discovered his abilities in 1862 when taking a self-portrait which when developed revealed a spirit image of his deceased cousin. He was married to Hannah Frances Green-Mumler who also worked as a medium and assisted him with his spirit photographs. Before beginning his career as a spirit photographer, Mumler worked as a jewelry engraver in Boston, practicing amateur photography in his spare time at the studio of Helen F. Stuart. While taking a self-portrait in October of 1862 Mumler discovered the spirit image of his cousin who had been dead for 12 years. This is credited as the first spirit…
1895 - 1972
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”. 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”. Myers was accused of fraud…
Nolan, John H.
John H. Nolan was a spirit photographer who operated out of Waterloo, NY. He was listed as a "spirit artist" in the Religio-Philosophical Journal. Nolan was working as a photographer as early as the 1960s and was attached to the 12th Army Corps, Engineer Brigade in Virginia. In January 1964 he was arrested for attempting to leave Rappahannock Station on a train without a pass. Nolan claimed that he could not tell how he obtained spirit photographs; "that at first he had been pestered by their appearing when not expected; that many pictures had been spoiled by them; that the first he knew they were spirits was when those who sat for pictures recognized them as their spirit friends". …
The photographers listed here do not have enough available information for a full bio: Browne, B. P: Spirit photographer active in the 1870s. He was accused of fraud when it was stated "he had been detected in ways that are dark and tricks that are in vain". His studio was located at 863 Washington Street, Boston, MA. The Religio Philosophical Journal - August 4, 1877 Bostwick, James A: (1846 - 1927) Photographer active from the 1860s through 1900s in New York. It is unknown if he was a spirit photographer or reproduced spirit photographs. Founded a studio with Jacques W. Bancker named Bostwick & Bancker. The studio was located at 98 Sixth Avenue, New York, NY. Carter, L: Spirit photographer…