Ever wonder why subjects in many old photos are not smiling?

Saturday, September 13, 2008 / Comments (3) / by kumander / PERMALINK

When i was a child, i always felt scared everytime i would lay my eyes on old portraits of our family ancestors. It's usually all over the place, corridors, staircases, living room, name it. Its freakin the hell out of me.

Why ? Well, aside from the formal and elegant dresses that they are wearing, you will never see a trace of smile in their faces,looks to me that they're serious in all those portriats.

Whenever i look at them I always thought that they are angry or something, and if i am to compare that fear, its safe to say that its close to having a heart attack. :) but that was back then, when i had no idea behind those serious faces.

Here are two reasons from readers digest that explained it well.

When you look at the old photos, there is never anyone smiling for two reasons, according to the article.

In the early days of photography, there existed a tradition of formality handed down from portrait painting in which posing for a photograph was considered a solemn occasion.

The other reason is that prior to 1880's, photograph required long exposures, so depending on the process it could involve 20 minutes or more. This necessitated the subject remaining still, and an extended period was difficult, it was discouraged.

So there, being serious in all thier pictures doesn't really mean they are serious, its the technology back in the days thats keeping them from smiling. But lets not tell the kids these days the reason behind it,it'll spoil all the fun, let them be scared for once in their life, after all we've been scared like freaks before right? So let them be!! :)

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Aimey @ September 16, 2008 at 2:46 PM

i noticed that too! no one ever seems to smile in old pictures.

Simon Raybould @ September 17, 2008 at 11:50 AM

Mind you.... from what I know, my great grand-parents really *were* grumpy buggers! :)

Tim @ September 19, 2008 at 11:19 AM

Thanks for that, I had always assumed that anyone living in the days before TV had nothing to smile about.

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