Inflection Point: Why No Victorian Selfies ?

Photo of Victorian womanThis post is a bit more on the trivial, personal, and less public affairsy side of things, but I think still interesting.

In looking at very old photographs, especially family portraits, I have wondered why they always look so dour.  For my family, was it my Germanic heritage ?

Or, more logically, I thought perhaps old posed photos required a long time to take, exposure-wise, so holding a long smile wasn’t part of the deal.  No happy selfies in those days, it seemed.

So, I was pleased when the “Vox”  site took on this exact question. Vox is a political and policy “explanation” site, but sometimes veers into other cultural issues.

Vox found that the need for longer exposures is in fact one issue, but also involved are cultural norms of those times, notions of photography as being akin portrait painting (where Mona Lisa-like smiles are rare), and ideas that photos captured people’s “immortality.”

All good to know.  So, in real life, rather than the photos through which I can see them today, my older generations of relatives may or may not have been more dour or sour than most people from that era.


Categories: Commentary

Tags: , ,

1 reply

  1. I’d be fine with a few more stoic selfies and a lot less of the cliched ‘stick out your tongue, flash the sign of the horns and look like an idiot’ ones.


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