As the home camera became more widespread in the early 20th century, amateur photographers began to capture ephemeral moments of daily life, fleeting instants that gradually became more and more abstracted from their context over time, turning into bizarre and puzzling images with perhaps a single word or year on the back lending a clue to participants long since dead and gone. It is just these mysterious and compelling photos that intrigue writer and photographer Ransom Riggs, whose collection of vintage photography stretches back to his childhood in Los Angeles and served as the inspiration for his first novel, Ms. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
Originally planned for a Halloween book of eerie vintage images with spooky couplets, Rigg’s efforts grew into a coming-of-age novel that included a mysterious island, crumbling orphanage, and a striking collection of bizarre photographs. Riggs also went exploring to find the perfect setting for Ms. Peregrine’s orphanage in the abandoned chateaus and castles of Europe.
With its upcoming film adaptation (rumored to have cast Eva Green in a Tim Burton-helmed affair), and a sequel, Hollow City, published earlier this year, Riggs has turned his outre hobby into a growing empire built on abandoned moments in time. Perhaps a trip to the flea market is in order to find some obscure photographs of your own to supplement your Halloween decor this year. In the meantime, check out some of the bizarre and ever-so-slightly disconcerting photos from the books in the gallery below.
The first few chapters of Ms. Peregrine is available to read at Quirk Books. Find out more about Rigg’s unusual collection at The New York Times and Huffington Post, or or hear him interviewed on NPR’s Here & Now, where you can also find excerpts and photographs from Hollow City.