These Photographs Look Normal To The Unsuspecting But Have a Haunting Backstory

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Things are never as they seem. Something can look inviting, attractive, and draw us in only to hold nothing but harm for us. Pictures are just a moment captured in time. The chances of that moment being representative of what is captured without context are slim. Usually there is a lot more than meets the eye.

That’s a lesson we should all remember in everything we look at. When you see a person you have no idea what’s ging on in their lives at that moment in time. When you go to a place you ca’t fathom all the events that make up its history. Life is so much bigger than ourselves, all we can do is try to make up the pieces of the big picture…even though these pieces may be quite hanting.

Not Your Typical Lunchbox

American physicist Harold Agnew holding the nuclear core of the Fat Man atomic bomb. (

United States Geological Survey, via

United States Geological Survey, via

​What do you see? Without context, this looks like an innocent man carrying a lunchbox on his way to work. Except this isn’t any man and it is not just an ordinary lunch box. This is physicist Harold Agnew holding the core of the Fat Man atomic bomb.

Not long after this photo was taken on August 9, 1945, a thick cloud would take over the city of Nagasaki where the plutonium bomb “Fat Man” was dropped at 11:02 that morning killing 80,000 people in the process. This lunch boxed-sized item would be the heart of a bomb that weighed nearly 10,000 pounds and was built to produce a 22-kiloton blast.  Let this be your reminder that things happen when you least expect them, so make every moment count.

Could Have Been A Relaxing Beach Day

Couple whose child went missing in Los Angeles, 1954.

Photo Credit: John L. Gaunt – Los Angeles Times, via, Public Domain

Photo Credit: John L. Gaunt – Los Angeles Times, via, Public Domain

People go to the beach to relax and unwind never expecting that it could turn out to be the worst day of their lives. The beach has high vibrating energy that helps a person look at the bigger picture and externalize their problems. Yet for this family, the beach would be their worst nightmare when their 19-month-old son would wander away from their yard and go off to the beach by himself.

It was the spring of 1954,  when Los Angeles Times photographer John Giant heard a commotion at the beach from his beachfront home. Not knowing what event was taking place he quickly grabbed his camera and rushed to the source of the noise. When he got there he saw this couple and took their picture as they held each in distress. Unfortunately, the baby had vanished into the water only to later be found dead offshore. Hold your loved ones and keep an eye on each other, all it takes is a moment to lose someone you love.

It Could Have Been An Ordinary Day

Father and daughter in Omagh, Northern Ireland, 1998.

(Photo Credit: Unknown/ Wikimedia Commons)

(Photo Credit: Unknown/ Wikimedia Commons)

When tend to go from our day-to-day an almost robotic fashion, never really acknowledging our surrounding or taking a moment to appreciate the little things. This father-daughter duo was just on their way when they decided to stop for a quick picture. They had no idea that they were moments short of the Omagh car bombing that took place on August 15, 1998.

In fact the bomb was hiding inThe red Vauxhall Cavalier pictured to the right in this photograph. Luckily somebody was watching over them and both father and daughter survived the bombing, while 29 other people were killed. The camera was later found in the rubble. Remember to take the time to appreciate your surroundings, rather than simply going through the motions.

Peaceful Last Moments

American volcanologist David A. Johnston sitting in a folding chair at Mount St. Helens, May 18, 1980.

Photo Credit: Harry Glicken/ Wikimedia Commons

Photo Credit: Harry Glicken/ Wikimedia Commons

​Living a happy life is being driven by passion and seeing where it would lead us even if the path seems dangerous. This is David A. Johnston an American volcanologist who had gotten comfortable playing with fire. He wasn’t afraid to take risks if it meant pursuing his dreams and living a life of passion. On May 18, 1980, John had made it to the volcano Mount St. Helens and celebrated his success by taking a moment to rest on a folding chair.

Only thirteen hours later, the volcano erupted, killing 57 people, including Johnston. He died a happy death with his last known words transmitting:“Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!” before being swept away by the lateral blast of the volcano. His body has never been found, but remains of his USGS trailer were found in 1993. Isn’t better to feel alive and risk death than to live safely without ever truly living?

All In Good Fun

Two brothers only seconds before being struck by lightning at Moro Rock, California.

Photo Credit: Reddit

Photo Credit: Reddit

Kids are equally innocent and brave. They take risks not yet understanding the consequences. On August 20, 1975, two brothers and their sister went on a fun little hike. Michael and Sean McQuilken having a great time laughing as they watched their hair standing up. This risky game was testing the forces of nature as just seconds after this photo was taken they would be struck by lightning. Luckily, both brothers survived.

Michael McQuilken tells the story: “at the time, we thought this was humorous. I took a photo of Mary and Mary took a photo of Sean and me. I raised my right hand into the air and the ring I had on began to buzz so loudly that everyone could hear it. I found myself on the ground with the others. Sean was collapsed and huddled on his knees. Smoke was pouring from his back.”

Word of advice: don’t mess with the forces of nature, it is more powerful than we can imagine

Home Is Where The Heart Is

girl who grew up in a concentration camp draws “home,” 1948.

Photo Credit: David Seymour – Original publication,, Fair use

Photo Credit: David Seymour – Original publication,, Fair use

​Kids’ minds are completely impressionable as any event surrounding them has the power to imprint their memory and become a part of their identity. Now imagine a kid growing up in a concentration camp during the Second World War. Think of the horror that would taint their innocence. This photograph was taken by David “Chim” Seymour in 1948, of a young girl who lived in a home for emotionally disturbed children located in Warsaw. And who could blame her?

The girl turned out to be , four-year-old Tereska whose home was destroyed and she was struck by a piece of shrapnel that gave her brain damage. It took her three weeks to make it to the next village and she almost starved getting there. Luckily she was taken in and lived up to her 60s.

The Power of Love

two hands pullig on black heart

Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

Let these images be a reminder that every action you take matters. Every moment adds up to another moment so rather than let them pile up without meaning or context, take the time to make the most of the good ones, find the good in the bad ones, and share kindness because you never know who is struggling.

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Higher Perspectives Author

Higher Perspectives Author is one of the authors writing for Higher Perspectives