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With the birth of the camera in 1826, old photographs often depict people looking serious and unsmiling, even in pictures of weddings and celebrations where happiness and joy are expected.

"Discover the secret... Why do not all people smile in old photos?"

Discover the secret... Why do not all people smile in old photos?

This is mainly evident in the photos taken at the end of the eighteenth century and throughout the nineteenth century. But why didn't people smile in front of the camera? In this article, we will take a look at the history of photography and the traditions related to portrait photography.

The early cameras did not find it easy to capture images. One of the most common reasons is that the process took a long time for the photos to be developed. The early cameras were not instant like taking a photo with your phone today.

The display of photos took a long time, meaning the subject had to remain still for an extended period. On average, early cameras took about 20 minutes to capture an image. People had to stay as still as possible to get a high-quality picture. Movement or smiling would blur the image, making people appear out of focus and blurry. Therefore, sitting with a relaxed face instead of maintaining a smile for 20 minutes was easier, but... relaxing for 20 minutes, like a mummy, is the closest thing to boredom, impatience, and even frustration!
Discover the secret... Why do not all people smile in old photos?
The wedding ceremony is only once, and the photo should be the anniversary of the event, even if it steals 20 minutes of strict stillness from the joy of celebration.

However, this was not the only factor, as camera quality improved over the years, and by 1900, it had become quite advanced for that time. In the twentieth century, cameras could capture an image in about 20 seconds.

The introduction of the Brownie camera and other cameras reduced exposure times, meaning people could maintain a smile. So, the times were slow by today's standards but fast for that time.

Photography for personal images was initially regarded as an artistic alternative to drawing. There were also links to the idea that personal photos are a special moment to document one's existence. Before cameras, this could be drawn manually, a process that would take hours or even days.

The idea of capturing a portrait became associated with a special occasion, whether to commemorate a birthday, achievement, or celebration. The concept of a photograph was to take sufficient time to capture the important moment. This tradition persisted even when cameras emerged.

People at that time are believed to have had this mindset that this time was serious and important, even when taking pictures.

Generally, people never smiled in old photos for several reasons. The prevailing trend is linked to what was socially acceptable at that time and the technical obstacles, as moving any part of the body would compromise image quality. Additionally, smiling in photography and personal pictures was initially challenging due to the time it took to capture the image.
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