Move-O-Graph, The Live Portrait

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Sadly, this example of a Move-O-Graph “Live Portrait” is missing half of the image, which means that it no longer “moves.” I estimate that it was taken in the late 1910s or early 1920s, merely by the hairstyle and moustache, but I could be well out.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
I’ve found very few examples of this style of portrait on the net.

Image © and courtesy of Stephen Herbert
In an article entitled Animated Portrait Photography Stephen Herbert quotes another article published in the Amateur Photographer in 1916 in which Living Portraits are described in rather sarcastic and derogatory terms. He also includes an example from his own collection. I can’t find many references to this style of portrait, so I presume that they never became very popular.

Gif Created on Make A Gif
I’ve taken the liberty of trying to recreate the effect that this Move-O-Graph Portrait would have had by using an animated GIF. You’ll have to be the judge of whether or not you would have wanted yourself preserved for posterity in this manner.

If any other readers have such Move-O-Graph portraits in their collections, I’d be keen to hear from you, particularly if their “movements” remain intact.


Herbert, Stephen (1989) Animated Portrait Photography, in History of Photography, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Jan-Mar 1989)


~ by gluepot on Sunday, June 6, 2010.

6 Responses to “Move-O-Graph, The Live Portrait”

  1. Fascinating post!

  2. I had never heard of the Move-O-Graph before. The effect is kind of eerie, though fascinating; not sure I'd have wanted to be remembered this way!

  3. Hello Brett, thanks for posting the interesting article on the "Move-O-Graph" portrait. I have something similar called a "Living Portrait". I have posted details today at: I don't believe you have a "missing half" of the image, but have a missing cellulose slide. You may be able to recreate this with Photoshop, and make a animated GIF.I assume the inventor has patented this idea. I can't work out how the image has been created but it seems to be two on three photographs combined in some way in the areas where the image moves.

  4. Thanks, Dorene and Greta, for your comments.Also to Tony for your comment about the Move-O-Graph, and for being quick off the mark and posting such an interesting, and complete, example from your own collection. What a pity your sodesn't show a clear date – although my intuition says it may be somewhat later than mine, perhaps.Regards, Brett

  5. sodesn't = doesn'tand yes, you may well be right about the missing cellulose "filter." I will have a play around and see what I can come up with. Thanks for the tip.

  6. Very interesting, Brett, I've never seen anything like this.

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