Posted by: amartinmhc | November 19, 2014

Victorians Smiling

Keeping in mind that we discussed the limits of early photography in capturing a smile AND that it is that time of the semester when we can all use more smiles:

Victorians smiling

A little preview —



  1. Amy, this is amazing. Thank you.

  2. These contrast so refreshingly with many of the severe-looking portraits we’ve discussed this semester. In light of our conversations about the logistics of portraiture, I wonder about the exposure time. The subjects in the photos to which you’ve linked us seem, on the whole, to smile spontaneously, but I see that some of the photos are blurry, not quite up to the speed needed to document the sitter mid-laugh. At the time these photos were taken, how quickly could a camera capture the scene?

    These photos make me think of the awkward smiling photos we take today, the ones where take multiple exposures rapidly, where we are forced to grin for what feels like minutes get the “best” shot. However, when we smile for an extended period of time to get the “best” shot, are these “authentic” moments of joy? The energy, the blurriness, of some of the above photos seem like outtakes. Is the spontaneity what makes these photos so endearing, or is it because we rarely see sitters like this in the Victorian age? In other words, is the outtake-like feel of these photographs what makes the photos “authentic”? For me, these smiling photos are surprising and believable because there are mistakes, because they are uncommon.

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