Babies Were Supposed To Be The Stars Of These Portraits, But The Furniture Has An Unusual Secret.

As any parent knows, it can be nearly impossible to get a small child or baby to sit still for even a second. When each image took nearly a minute to produce, can you imagine the ordeal in getting your tot to remain motionless for a photograph? In the Victorian era, photography was a relatively new invention and every parent wanted a portrait of their darling little ones. The process was still primitive, and it took a very long time for the image to register on the film. Even adults had difficulty sitting still for that long, and often required a clamp to keep their heads still. 

As for babies … well … it took a little more ingenuity. Mothers, using sheets, drapes, and other coverings, would hold the child while doing their best impersonation of a chair or a wall. This practice actually still occurs in portrait studios, though the camouflaged parent is usually far less noticeable than in these shots.

It might seem a little silly now, but it was certainly effective.


Many of the fabrics used were quite decorative, perhaps to help distract the eye.

Even the people of the era found some humor in it, as seen in this cartoon from Harper's Bazaar, where a baby ends up with some unusual footwear in the finished photo.

Some are fairly straightforward...


While others are downright bizarre.

Despite the monotone, photo retouching often included rosy cheeks.

The intent behind it was to make the child the focus of the photograph, but as the years passed, the mothers in disguise became the real stars of the show.

Credit: Hidden Mother FlickrMessy Nessy Chic

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