Staying still for a photograph to be taken is one of the requirements for capturing the moment and transforming it into a tangible, visually-clear memory. Since the human passage through this world is always limited, it is no wonder that portraits are seen as immortal tokens of one’s life. Far more than longing to stop time, it is human nature to seek remembrance in everything we undertake, sometimes reaching this outcome through exaggerated means. Perhaps seen as the promise of one’s memory to outlast their body, the early nineteenth century brought a more unusual, yet popular demand for in memoriam family portraits (Hirsche, 2009). This would require for deceased members of the family to ‘pose’ before burial, just as if they were alive, alone or paired with the living. As such, before becoming a profession, taking pictures of dead people was an art.
‘No artist is ever morbid’ (Wilde, 1931), so to speak in defence of the forensic expert which nowadays carries the burden of taking photos when arriving at a crime scene. Fortunately, a recently deceased body will stay still, not at all for artistic purposes, but more as a result of a stage of death setting in, revealing the last position the body was in before the person was left to die. I will continue the compilation by framing the next topic: Rigor Mortis, the second stage in human decay and the accurate estimation of the time of death.