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Nineteenth-Century Mother Photos Ranged From Hidden Mom Photo Bombs To Boldly Beautiful Portraits

Nineteenth-Century Mother Photos became the rage when photography was still an emerging science. By the mid 1850s it was becoming available to the masses. Motherhood has never been an easy job,  but at least taking photos of children was becoming a snap. Following are four fabulous genres.

#1 Nineteenth-Century Mother Photos: The Hidden Mothers a.k.a. Photo Bomb Moms

No, these are not attempts at Victorian Era Trick photography like the headless portraits that were so popular. Look closely and you will see that hidden mom photo bomb is just a caring mother cleverly disguised as a couch or an armchair. Covered in tablecloths and curtains, it seems mother is doing her best to get a lovely solo shot of the kids.

No one is certain why these mothers went to such extremes. Some experts have guessed that these clever costumes are actually disguising nannies or nurses who were not to be seen.

In some of these photos we see a disembodied hand reaching from offstage. One factor to consider is the length of exposure time. Early daguerreotype images took about 60-90 seconds. Photographic technology was advancing and exposure times were quickly being reduced. Even so, when was the last time you saw a wakeful child or infant hold still for 30 seconds or more without some help from an undercover mom?

#2 Nineteenth-Century Mother Photos: The Queen Mother Herself

Queen Victoria was just a young woman when photography first made headlines. She and Prince Albert championed the emerging art form through their patronage of the Photographic Society of London.

They attended photography shows and they were instrumental in the Great Exhibition of 1851 at the Crystal Palace in London where photography had a profound presence. The Great Exhibition offered many of the visitors their first opportunity to see a photograph in person.

They sat for royal family photographs—both public and private. Early on, Victoria began collecting photos, photochrom postcards and visiting cards, which she placed in albums. Her hobby soon became a fad among aristocrats.

#3 Nineteenth-Century Mother Photos: The Breastfeeding Mom

While some mothers were evading the camera by hiding under yards of chintz, others proudly breastfed in front of the camera. By the 1850s, photos of breastfeeding mothers became a fad. This was particularly true in America where the use of wet nurses was not as common as it was in Europe.

These photos: Courtesy of Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.

#4 Nineteenth-Century Mother Photos: The Kodak Mom

Women actively participated in the development of professional photography from its inception in the early 1800s. By 1893, the Eastman Kodak Company developed a simple, reliable camera. Kodak Girls were at the center of their ad campaigns for decades. Kodak Girls were on the go. They traveled around the world and launched new businesses.

Kodak girls became Kodak moms. By the late 1800s and early 1900s, mothers were behind the camera, documenting all the special moments for their families to keep.

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