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October 30, 2021

30 Rarely Seen Daguerreotype Portraits of People Smiling

The Daguerreotype, the first widely used photographic process, was invented in 1839. The exposure time in those early days was really long, sometimes lasting up to 15 minutes or so. Way too long to hold a smile.

Grinning exercises far too many muscles. People would tire out, change their expression, and ruin the daguerreotype. No wonder people in old photos look so serious. They needed to gaze blankly in order for the image to work.

By the 1840s, exposure times bobbed around 10 to 60 seconds, making personal photos much more feasible. Yet even then, heads sagged, backs slouched, and fingers fidgeted. Some professionals developed hidden neck braces that would lock the subject’s body into place.

Although it was less expensive than having your portrait painted, getting your picture taken still wasn’t cheap. Some people had just one photo snapped their whole entire life. That made the event a pretty important and formal deal.

It wasn’t until the turn of the 20th century when cameras became portable and easier to use, that pictures turned into casual snapshots, and smiles became more common.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder what the black “goggles” were for that the one woman was wearing? Is there any extra info on that picture?




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