Why Didnt People Smile In Old Photographs

excuse me while I take a selfie most people these days tend to automatically smile when a camera is pointed at them but you may have noticed that I did not smile as I took that selfie why didn't I smile well what why should i smile if it's forced right but it's what we do well now anyway if you look at old photographs a lot of people were not smiling why didn't people smile and old photographs and why do they tend to smile now the moment a camera is pointed at them to understand why people didn't originally smile on photographs you need to understand both the history of the photograph and a little art history as well before the photograph the only way we knew what people were things look like was by paintings some of these painters were masters of realistically depicting people realism or naturalism is the attempt to represent subject matter and art truthfully and realism was particularly big in the 1800s so if someone is painted as realistically looked of course that usually would not be smiling imagine if you walked around everywhere smiling at all times not only is that not realistic you might freak some people out in fact they might think you are a little crazy most people spend most of their life neither smiling nor frowning a smile as a response not an expression so it usually can't be held for a long time by the 1600s smiling and portraits was frowned upon it was so taboo that only the poor drunk innocent or children smiled in portraits basically people believed that if you smiled in a portrait you would be preserved in time and remembered in history as a fool because it was very expensive to get a portrait painted of yourself most people rarely had the opportunity to get one so when they did they wanted to be remember as an idolized version of themselves not as some jokester when artists chose their subjects and painted them they only tended to paint smiles for those who society already looked at as fools or childish thus they were rare in 1826 French inventor nisi for Denis produced view from the window at McGraw the earliest known surviving photograph the picture took at least eight hours to expose although some historians argue it may have taken days after neeps died his partner Louis Daguerre kept on keeping on in 1839 he introduced a new form of photograph named the daguerreotype where a positive of an image developed directly onto a photographic plate it cut down exposure time to 60 to 90 seconds that was still a long time to sit still and if subjects did move the picture would turn out blurry because of this some people argue that people didn't smile an old photograph because they had to sit still for so long and it was hard to keep a smile for 90 seconds sitting perfectly still but this claim doesn't hold up because by 1845 the daguerreotype exposure time was cut to only a few seconds and people were still refusing to smile for cameras some argue that people didn't smile because they were ashamed to show their teeth but that argument doesn't hold any teeth doesn't hold up when you realize that nearly everyone had bad teeth back then so why would they care plus you can smile just fine without showing your teeth the main reason why people didn't smile on old photographs is actually just because of the culture during the Victorian era in particular a small tightly controlled mouth was considered beautiful in fact photographers during this era told their subjects to say prunes to make them purse their lips together also just like with portrait paintings before only the rich could afford to be photographed in the early days and often it was such a big occasion that in May the only time they were photographed in their entire lives they didn't want to be remembered with a foolish smile on their face even Mark Twain who consistently made people laugh did not smile in photos a photograph is a most important document and there is nothing more damning to go down to posterity than a silly foolish smile cut and fixed forever he said throughout the 1800s and into the early 1900's despite the fact that more and more people even poor people were having their pictures taken very few people were smiling the fact is the tradition of not smiling in portrait paintings carried over to photographs but things begin to change after the invention of the motion picture in the early 1900 silent movie stars were captured smiling on the big screen for everyone to see this was because there were more opportunities for them to smile as they were just no longer posing more and more casual moments were caught on film in Hollywood in 1900 a spent codec created the first brownie camera an inexpensive camera that brought photography to the masses and introduced the snapshot now your average person was taking pictures photography became a hobby for everyone and capturing everyday moments including more and more moments with smiles were common the phrase say cheese which is supposed to cause people to smile for pictures in case you didn't know was apparently first used in the 1940s this is evidence that people by that time were used to smiling for pictures when you search the terms 1900s smiling for pictures in Google Images notice the images that come up now here's the 1910 smiling for pictures in 1920s smiling for pictures notice the change the rise of people smiling for photographs coincides with the rise of the motion picture today we have the duckface that's like a whole model video to explain how we got to that point but what still dominates picture taking is that smile the fact that we just can't help but imagine a camera is pointed at us and for that as well as for the duckface we have the rise of technology to thank beginning with Kodak and the motion picture speaking of motion pictures thank you for watching this motion picture