The Cooper Family Photo

Ever since the camera was invented, hundreds or thousands of images have shown something odd within the framing of the shot. A lot of these occurred without the knowledge of either the photographer or subject(s) of the snapshot itself. Many of the more famous ghost photographs came about by the photographer being in the right place at the right time, mostly without even realizing it!

cooper family photo

The Cooper family photo shows a frightening figure hanging from the ceiling.

One of the more recent examples of this came to light in or around 2009. From the moment this photograph entered the public domain, debate has raged on it’s authenticity. This photograph was said to have taken sometime during the 1950s on the day that the whole family moved into a new home. Mr Cooper had Mrs Cooper, grandma Cooper and both children pose for a standard family portrait. What nobody realized during the exposure was that there was a fifth subject captured in the photograph. When the picture was developed, the trespasser was found on the left hand side of the photograph, either falling from, or hanging from, the ceiling. Mr Cooper was said to have been adamant that nobody else was in the frame when he took the photograph that night. None of the subjects were aware of their spooky looking visitor either, as all were posing happily as one might expect.

That was the basis behind this now famous photo.

Assuming that this Cooper family photo was not, as some insist, a modern Photoshop design, then who else appeared in shot? Could this be an apparition of a former owner or tenant of the house? Nobody could answer that question. Perhaps an alternative explanation is that this image came about as an example of a double exposure.

cooper family photo

A closer view of the mysterious figure in the photo.

When the photograph was examined more closely, a process called vignetting was discovered in the corners of the picture. While this effect can be the result of lens limitations or certain camera settings, these examples appear too uniform in nature for it to be some random event without manipulation from appropriate software such as Photoshop or Paint Shop. Critics also point to the shadows of the subject, insisting that they fall in a direction not according to the given light sources available. These arguments indicate either deception on the part of someone or an honest mistake when faced with an unfortunate double exposure.

A hoax or deliberate fabrication would have to be done by someone. The photograph was reportedly uploaded onto the World Wide Web on 14 November 2009 by Sam Gowan. Once this photograph appeared on – a fan site for author Thomas Ligotti – titled Family Gathering, an investigation concluded that Sam was not responsible for its creation. Within months the photo was doing the internet rounds on many other paranormal sites. Xavier Ortega posted it on the website Ghost Theory but denied being responsible for its design. The outcome of this uploading did bring this photo to a much wider audience than it had had before. The backstory of the Texan Cooper Family seemed to have been announced sometime after this, first appearing in 2013.

Photographers have also speculated why this image was so poorly framed. The obvious subjects were the immediately family but the image isn’t centred on them. It has been suggested that the original image was cropped sometime after development and that the family originally took centre stage in the portrait. This could be true, if the picture is genuine, but ever since the photo was revealed, there has been little to no talk about the negatives. That might arouse some suspicion and lend weight to the hoax idea.

Whether this is a real image, Photoshop work of art or a simple camera aberration, it is an intriguing image that will surely be around for quite a few years, appearing in YouTube Top Ten strange photographs countdowns on a regular basis.

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Les Hewitt

Les currently resides in London and is a freelance writer with a long standing passion for the unexplained and paranormal. In his spare time he enjoys astronomy and Xboxing. It's a big Universe full of wonders.

Historic Mysteries