The Hidden Mother Phenomenon: Historical Family Portraits for Everyone

the girlsFamily photography is a gorgeous thing and something I absolutely adore is looking at old family photographs.

You get the opportunity to see families through the generations, and see similarities that are astounding. And it is simply wonderful to see how people once lived; people who have such strong ties to you.

Throughout old family portraits and the history of photography, there has been an interesting and odd phenomenon, specifically in American photos. This is referred to as the “hidden mother.”

It is absolutely fascinating, and I want to explore this incredible part of photographic history, showing you something incredible. 

A Hallmark of Family Portraits for All

While hidden mother portraits are a fascinating and sometimes eerie presence in the photography world, they are actually a hallmark of history changing.

Before the advent of photography, family portraits were only available for those with substantial money, as they were often painted. When photography came about, this all changed.

Families who couldn’t afford painted family portraits were able to afford photographs, and many saw this as the perfect chance to get gorgeous photos of their children.

However, this led to new struggles such as children not wanting to sit still for photos – we all know how that goes! Thus, the “hidden mother” in portraits was born. 

A Beautiful Illustration of a Mother’s Love

Be it a ghostly hand holding a child up or a specially placed sheet covering the mother, hidden mothers were a huge part of family photographs.

No matter how hidden the mother is in the photo, it is always clear the love and tenderness she has for and towards her child.

You can see arms wrapped around children in a loving and protective embrace or see a hand delicately ensuring the child is safe. It is such a beautiful capture, no matter how oddly the mother is hidden.

Examining the Hidden Mother

Laura Larson noticed these hidden mothers when going through old photographs, and she decided she wanted to learn more.

Sometimes the mother was hidden well, only creating a small oddity. However, other times, the mother might not have been hidden well, which led to her face being scratched out, adding an eerie feel to the photos.

The faces being scratched out doesn’t designate any problems such as anger that we would associate that with now. Instead, it just adds another fascinating element to this historical moment in photography.

Laura is continually researching hidden mothers, learning more about the women in the photographs and this incredible phenomenon. 

The History of Early Photography – Simply Astounding!

How amazing is this brief moment in early photography history? Simply gorgeous, isn’t it?

Do you have any photos with hidden mothers? Whether of your own family or any you’ve collected? I would love to see them!

And whether you have hidden mother photos or not, old family portraits are perfect for creating memorials and I can help ensure your photos stay safe for decades to come. Simply call and we can have a little chat!

Talk soon,
Margherita :)

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