Wondering about wild grapes

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wondering About Old, Old Pictures.

Our friend, Rich, collects old books, pictures, etc.  He even buys up any old school yearbooks he can find.  So, he sent me an email yesterday and here is what he said:
Here is a “Wondering” question for your blog. I’ve collected old photos for years and I am always asked this question.
"Ever wonder why people didn't smile in the old photos?"
  
He went on to answer the question for me:
In Europe it was a well-established fact that the only people who smiled in life were the poor, the lewd, the drunk and the entertainment.  If you wanted to be seen as upper class and a person of good character you didn't smile. Now you know!!

 Of course, the first thing I did was search through the Internet to find and look at old portraits form the 1800's.  Dang, Rich was sure right.  I couldn't fink more than a couple that had a hint of a smile on their faces.  Here is an example of what I found:


The above picture was of a lady but men didn't smile either.  Here is an example of  a man's portrait during that time period:

This next lady looks like she is trying real hard to look as serious as she can.  What??  Do they think if they smile in a picture of themselves that they will go to Hates when they die.

This gal looks like she is ready to burst into tears.  How sad she looks and how sad it is that this is what her future generations will have to remember her by:
 
Even the Native Americans wouldn't smile for a picture, but they had good reason not to smile:

 
 
Well, I am going to try to smile a lot today, whether I feel like it or not.  I am sure that no one will take my picture, but I will feel better when I am smiling and so will anyone who is around me.  So, you all smile and have a great day, you hear?
 

15 comments:

  1. I always heard that they didn't smile and they look stiff as a board because the photograph took a while to "take" - you had to sit still and maintain a pose for a certain length of time or the picture would blur and be ruined. It's easier to hold a straight face for a long time than a smile, which ends up looking fake if you hold it too long.

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    1. That is probably true. Sorry Gypsy, but I am not old enough to remember having to sit still for long periods of time to get my picture took. ..

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    2. You are a mere youngster! I don't actually remember having to sit still to pose for a picture, but in the early days of photography - like around the Civil War - they did.

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  2. My family (grandparents and further back) didn't own a camera... I think my own parents got their first one in the early 1950's. Having one's picture taken was a big deal. The first picture taken of me I was 2 months old... a traveling photographer went around house to house... the photo is on a postcard. I have a few (very few) pictures of my grandparents who died before I was born... wooohooo... I think I'd have been scared to death of my Grandma... hatchet-faced... looked really mean. Folks who have old photos are really fortunate... I hope they document who is who and where and when the photos were taken. Too many of us have a bunch of photos that we don't know if that woman is Aunt Margaret or the neighbor lady.

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    1. I love to look at all the old family pictures and in some of them, I don't even know who they are. I remember my parents had big ole box cameras that had a couple of view finders on them. They took big black and white photos. Have a lot of pictures taken with them. Then My Dad got a 35mm camera and that took slides but you could have prints made, also. Loved those old cameras. BTW, my Mom marked on the back of most of them who they were. Sure glad she did that.

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  3. Did you see "Million Ways to Die in the West?" The characters there explain the non smiling poses. They commented that anyone who held a smile for a long time looked wild and crazy or a lunatic. It was funny, but maybe not the reason. As someone commented, it took a long time to take a picture, so not smiling was best. Plus, lots of people had no teeth, missing teeth, or rotten teeth. So, no smile was best. Everyone's old pictures are probably so strained that we might not recognize our relatives. But, I am glad to have the sad or angry or frightened pictures.

    I have a picture of my grandfather and grandmother and eight of their children. I finally figured out when it was taken--their oldest son had just died a slow and painful death. So, there was reason for sadness. Maybe some other people had photos taken in times of duress.

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    1. I inherited my Mother's pictures from our family when I was young and she also had her Mother's (my grandma's) pictures. I look at them and my old pictures often. Never seem to tire of looking at them. I guess I should mark the ones I know who they are for future reference.

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    1. Smiles make the world a better place.

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  5. I was wandering and I wonder why I didn't wander here for over three months. Then I remembered I've been rather out of the loop for over three months.

    I wonder if one the reasons a lot of folks didn't smile in photos way back when was because they reckoned they were supposed to look serious. Perhaps such newish technology made them feel somewhat uptight.

    Y'all stand still, smile and I'll take your lil' ol' photo.

    Nice to see you, good sir.

    Gary

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    1. Glad to hear from you Gary. I'm smiling, so go ahead, take my picture. Yep, I guess getting your picture taken back then was a big deal and so they were serious.

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  6. Hermit's Baby Sis (Texas Ann)October 22, 2014 at 8:00 AM

    I am in line to inherit my great-grandparent's wedding picture, which hangs over Mama's living room fireplace. I remember both my great-grandmothers, and one great-grandfather, all on Mama's side of the family, and they all had great smiles. But not in the photo!
    My daddy's mama,born in 1884, was a great keeper of photos, and I have quite a few of hers. She was also very good about putting names and dates on these, a habit I am trying to cultivate for myself. Recently gave each of my kids a lot of their own, as well as some of me, baby and childhood pics, each labeled as best I could. One of mama's favorite ways to spend an afternoon is going thru old photos. May do that with her for her upcoming 89th birthday on Nov. 1.

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    1. I guess there is a program one could use to do the same with digital pictures.

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  7. A smile is like a blush – it is a response, not an expression per se, and so it can neither be easily maintained nor easily recorded.

    What I wonder about is who in the hell decided that sticking your tongue out rather than smiling is what you do when someone is going to take your picture? I think the serious non-smiling pose was better!

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    1. I would never be so arrogant as to stick my tongue out when being photographed. Must be something new the younger generation has come up with. Of course back in youth, when they took our class pictures, someone always was making a funny face.

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