Here’s why people didn’t smile in old photos

NIO Desk, July 30

People are typically depicted in 19th and 20th century paintings as not smiling and with a gloomy look on face. And the majority of us would probably blame the then-current economic and  crisis that society went through at those times for these body language and facial expressions. You might be surprised to learn that none of these factors contributed to the lack of smiles in photographs.

Dylan Page, who has three million TikTok followers, used the platform to explain the plausible explanations for the older grim photography. Here are some explanations for why people in old photographs didn’t smile:

Did they feel that photography was scary?

Contrary to today, photography was a new technology to those who did not already know about it and that may have been a reason. As they knew so less about cameras, because they were just becoming accustomed to it, that would have scared them of posing for pictures.

Taking a picture in old times took 15 minutes

The longer exposure times needed by older cameras made it challenging for people to maintain their smiles. Yes, taking a picture did not take just few seconds, nor was it as simple as clicking a button. The entire process took about 15 minutes, and people found it easier to pose with no expression at all than maintain a smile for that long.

Smiling was considered a sign of mental illness in 18th-19th century

Back then, a broad smile was not accepted well by many and thought to be a sign of “madness.” People favoured to stand still as compared to smiling as a result.