Unexplained Photos – Stories From Behind the Lens

Unexplained Photos – Stories From Behind the Lens

Do you believe in the Loch Ness Monster? What about Bigfoot? Do you have a thing for unexplained photos?

In the last hundred years or so photography has given us glimpses into folklore and created urban legends. These stories wouldn’t exist without intrepid photographers trying to capture, and sometimes fake, that decisive shot.

Here at Vintage Photo Lab we thought we’d delve into our own X files and have a look at some of the most intriguing photos out there.


The Loch Ness Monster


The legend of the Nessie is ancient, it was recorded as early as 565AD in the journal of the Celtic Saint, St. Columba, but it was the early 20th century with the advent of photography that this legend began to grip the public’s imagination.

‘The Surgeon’s Photo’ was taken in 1934 by the physician Colonel Robert Wilson, his image was regarded by many as compelling evidence of the monster’s existence, however not all is at it seems. The previous year the Daily Mail had hired famed big game hunter Marmaduke Wetherell to hunt for clues. He found footprints, or rather faked them, he was exposed for using a dried Rhino foot to make tracks. Smarting from this revelation he hatched a plot with Colonel Wilson to make the definitive photographic proof. They fitted a toy dragon’s head to a toy submarine, shot it from a distance and produced one of the world’s first successful fake photos.

This image has captivated generations and reinforced a legend. The truth only revealed by the plotters in their twilight years. And possibly the only time The Daily Mail has run a fake new story…


The Solway Spaceman


While holidaying in Cumbria in 1964, fireman Jim Templeton took this photograph of his 5 yr old daughter, Elizabeth. It quickly became a global sensation due to the spaceman like figure lurking behind Elizabeth’s head.

One of the most intriguing aspects of this image is that it appears to be genuine. Technicians from Kodak thoroughly checked the negative and concluded it had not been tampered with. Jim also claimed he was subsequently visited by two men dressed in black suits who referred to themselves only by the numbers 9 & 11. They claimed to be from the government and insisted Jim show them the rest of the photos and the holiday location.

The 60’s was the space era. Rockets flying into orbit and trips planned for the moon captivated a generation. It’s possible that the background figure is Elizabeth’s mum in a white dress bleached out by sunlight… but an untampered negative with a possible spaceman creates a much more tantalising back story.




The legend of Bigfoot is an integral part of folklore in the Pacific Northwest, America. Stories from Native Americans and European settlers tell of tall hairy ape like creatures roaming the forests of Northern California & Oregon.

Frame ‘352’ is a still from a 60 second film shot in October 1967 by filmmakers Roger Paterson & Bob Gilman. Paterson was a Bigfoot believer and spent a lot of time and money in the early 60’s searching for the creatures.

Paterson & Gilman began shooting a docu-drama in 1967 at Bluff Creek in Northern California. While out scouting for locations they spotted a creature on the other side of a creek. Patterson grabbed his camera and started filming, as Gilman drew his gun for cover. What they provided was 60 seconds of celluloid intrigue and fascination.

How big are those feet? It certainly looks like a big simian like creature but perhaps we should remember Paterson was shooting a Bigfoot film, probably had a Bigfoot costume and possibly wanted a bit of publicity, just possibly…


Mulder & Scully


Here at Vintage Photo Lab we can help you solve your family’s mysteries. The shoebox of old photos in your attic holds the clues.

Let us scan and digitise your old photos and connect you to your past. Get in touch for a free trial.


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