The Cooper Falling Body Photograph


Having researched this kind of stuff for many years, I’m quite familiar with the most infamous spooky snaps that one can find in books and dotted around the internet, this one, however, had eluded me until now. In fact, I first saw it yesterday on Imgur.

The details are thin on the ground. About half way through the last century (judging by the clothes), the Cooper family moved into a new home somewhere in Texas. They took a photograph to mark this occasion and this thing appeared in the left of the frame upon development. Another source has said that, instead of the figure only coming to light upon development, the photograph actually captured the moment a dead body fell through the ceiling. If this was the case I’d have expected the sitters to have reacted to the movement to some degree but they appear to be entirely unaware of any presence to their right.

I’m told that the original snap has been cropped a little, which explains why the family is now not centred as one would expect them to be. Some people argue that the degree of vignetting present points towards the photograph being uncropped but I think the vignetting is unequal with more appearing on the left border than the right. It seems possible then that the right-hand side of the photograph could have lost a centimetre or two at some point.

One non-paranormal explanation for the figure is that it is a doll being dangled in front of the camera to make sure the boys looked into the lens, but would anyone really let such an object invade the frame so much? Surely it’d be just as easy to dangle the doll well above the lens. Anyway, it doesn’t seem to be noticed by anyone in the picture and the figure’s details don’t really lend themselves to this idea.



cooperfam lrg


Even freakier upside-down.

Even freakier upside-down.

Another thing that bothers me: why is the figure’s clothing illuminated yet the flesh unnaturally dark?

Also, what's with the strangely black void in this section?

Also, what’s with the black void in this section?

I’ve had a quick Google, with a variety of keywords, but more details than the above evade me, so if anyone can squirrel more information it would be very enlightening to read. Furthermore, the farthest back it seems to appear online is 14/11/2009 – although I can’t find an explanation of it other than its title which is Family Gathering and its filename which is 1_familywithhangingman. I’ve seen it said that the photo was first uploaded to the internet in the year 2000 but no proof accompanied the statement.

Whatever the truth behind this photograph, it sure is an intriguing image.

For more research into real-life cases please check out my ebooks.


About MBForde

Writer. Excels at staring blankly, having bad hair and storing food in cheeks. Wrote Eerie Britain, amongst other things.
This entry was posted in Bizarre, Hoax?, Paranormal and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to The Cooper Falling Body Photograph

  1. giulia says:

    There is an explanation in the italian website “la bottega del mistero”:

    • MBForde says:

      Hey Giulia, thanks for the link! I had to get Google to translate that site into English – certainly some interesting points raised, thank you for sharing.

      • giulia says:

        Happy to have helped! In the site of La Bottega there are many detailed articles that attempt to explain the mysteries of the world.

  2. giulia says:

    Ah, ah, and there is also an article on the doll Robert. 🙂

  3. Paul Passmore says:

    Could someone please post a translated copy of the article in the comment section?

  4. tom says:


    The Cooper are a family like so many others : two loving parents , two children and a pestiferous wise grandmother in one piece . A half of the 800 move to Texas , in a beautiful house . Just arrived to celebrate the new home , the women and the boys sit sedately at the table , while dad takes a photo . All smiling – more or less – and all put clearly focused. A cute picture , which frames the typical ideal of the American Dream . If it were not for that thing at the top left .

    No one will notice anything , until the photo is developed : a corpse , or a ghost , that seems suspended from the ceiling about to fall . Hence the name of Cooper falling body photo . On the internet and in my books but I could not find much information on the origin of the image. Indeed , to be honest I have not found at all.

    Although the picture is known in the web , and often considered authentic , I am sure 99% it is a fake, and I’ll explain now why. The image in the corners of dark parts , such vignetting : it is mechanically effects data from cameras , but also by software such as Photoshop or Gimp , and are used usually to give some realism to a photo ; vignetting in question is too precise to have been produced at the click , so it seems more a visual effect added to the computer . Second, the body produces a shadow that falls from the ceiling to the right , and this is impossible : if he was really there at the time of shooting , the shadow would be to the left , and the error you notice it more easily in the arm close to the lateral edge . Finally , if you look right the first candle on the left , for marks that the other two do not have near the corpse : it is probably an image overlay

    • MBForde says:

      Very interesting, thanks for helping out, Tom!

    • STEWART J WELDON says:

      what you call vignetting is from the cheap flashes had at the time. The flashes illuminate a circle and leave those faded to black corners. Anyone who has family photos from the ’50s & ’60s will see this in most flash photos, especially indoor shots. The shadowing in this photo is very freaky, almost supernatural. This has still not been debunked to my satisfaction. I think it probably a fake, but it would have a difficult fake to pull off in 1959. Peace.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    looks like an accidental double exposure to me’

  9. Rob Byrd says:

    I used to think this photo was creepy as hell, but with a little inspection it’s pretty obvious hoax. I’ve seen higher resolution photos of this same image, and when rotated so that the “ghost” is right side up, it’s easy to make out the hard line where the face has been covered over or cropped out. Long hair can clearly be seen extending around the shoulders, falling from the covered-over area (this photo shows it as well). On the photo I viewed, there appears to be a faint image of a dog’s head on the “face” of the spirit. On this photo it’s possible to see a pair of eyes when the photo is enlarged- see if you can make out the rest of the dog. My guess is that the dark void at the bottom of the photo was where the dog was originally….

  10. MBForde says:

    It is strikingly creepy at first glance. If you can link me to the high-res versions I’d love to see them as your thoughts are most interesting. Thanks for your comment, Rob.

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  29. Layla says:

    Very creepy picture thanks for the info about it x

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