These Photos of the Paranormal Will Have You Seeing Things

Images of paranormal activity have been around since the dawn of modern photography. Pictures of ghostly spirits, dancing fairies, and mysterious monsters capture the imagination but are often later proved to be fake. But some images have withstood scrutiny over time. Are they real or just clever forgeries? Even if you dismiss in paranormal phenomena like ghosts or Bigfoot, these photos will make you think twice.

The Brown Lady

Raynham Hall
Google Images

Raynham Hall in England has been rumored to be haunted since the early 1800s when King George IV is said to have seen a ghost dressed in brown standing beside his bed. Other visitors reported seeing a similar apparition, often descending the estate's grand staircase, throughout the years. This famous photo was taken in September 1936 by Hubert Provand and Indre Shira, who were assigned to photograph Raynham Hall for Country Life magazine.

Bigfoot and Sasquatch

Is this Bigfoot?. Fred Kanney

Reports of a large, ape-like creatures have been reported throughout the Pacific Northwest for decades. Called Bigfoot or Sasquatch, these beings are described as large ape-like beings that walk upright like humans and live in isolated forests, avoiding contact with people. This famous photo is actually a still from a 16mm film shot in 1967 by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin in the Six Rivers National Forest of California. 

The Loch Ness Monster

Monster or hoax?. Photo: Ellie Williams

Residents of Scotland have spoken of a mysterious creature that lives in the depths of Loch Ness since the 6th century. Said to resemble a sea serpent or a dinosaur, "Nessie" has been photographed a number of times. One of the most famous, purporting to show the creature's long neck and back gliding above the lake surface, was shot in 1972. Another famous image was published in 2011 by the British newspaper the Daily Mail.

The Virgin Mary

Mary Banneux Belgium Virgin of the Poor
The statue and water spring of Mary, Virgin of the Poor at Banneux, Belgium. Photo © by Johfrael

Sightings of the Virgin Mary are woven into the very fabric of Christianity and people have reported seeing her image since the faith's earliest years. This image of the Virgin Mary was taken in 1968, when the Virgin appeared atop a Coptic Orthodox Church of St. Mary in the town of Zeitoun, Egypt. The apparition appeared repeatedly over the next three years and was even broadcast on Egyptian television.


UFO life Magazine
Wikimedia Commons

Unidentified Flying Objects or UFOs captured the nation's imagination in the decades following World War II as the space race heated up. Dozens of famous images purporting to show alien spacecraft have been circulated over the years, and while many of them have been debunked as forgeries, there are some that cannot be proven fake.  One of the most famous images appeared in Life magazine on June 26, 1950. It was taken by Paul Trent of McMinnville, Ore., who claimed to have seen the UFO on May 8 of that same year.

Photomanipulations and Fakes

Camera strap
Camera strap. J.D.

When examining photos for possible paranormal elements, we have to be very careful and skeptical. Just because you didn't see something in the viewfinder that later appears in your photo does not mean it's a ghost. Stray light, reflections, dust, hair, and insects can all cause photo anomalies. And with digital photography so commonplace, it's easy to create a fake paranormal photo with software like Adobe Photoshop.