These photographs served less as a reminder of mortality than as a keepsake to remember the deceased. This was especially common with infants and young children; Victorian era childhood mortality rates were extremely high, and a post-mortem photograph might be the only image of the child the family ever had
The earliest post-mortem photographs are usually close-ups of the face or shots of the full body and rarely include the coffin. The subject is usually depicted so as to seem in a deep sleep, or else arranged to appear more lifelike. Children were often shown in repose on a couch or in a crib, sometimes posed with a favorite toy or other plaything. It was not uncommon to photograph very young children with a family member, most frequently the mother. Adults were more commonly posed in chairs or even braced on specially-designed frames. Flowers were also a common prop in post-mortem photography of all types.
The effect of life was sometimes enhanced by either propping the subject’s eyes open or painting pupils onto the photographic print, and many early images (especially tintypes and ambrotypes) have a rosy tint added to the cheeks of the corpse.
Later examples show less effort at a lifelike appearance, and often show the subject in a coffin. Some very late examples show the deceased in a coffin with a large group of funeral attendees; this type of photograph was especially popular in Europe and less common in the United States.
The practice was known as Memento Mori. Some photography studio had frames designed to pose dead babies up and resident make-up artists who specialized in painting open eyes on the eyelids of dead children to make them appear as though their eyes were open and still alive.
As gory as this may sound, these pictures surly show how much these people and children were loved by their family.
To me this would be a sad reminder, but I suppose if you had no pictures of your loved ones this would be better than nothing. It just breaks my heart to see all these little children. It should remind us to thank God for medicines that we have today.
Video of Post Mortem Pictures