Mark Twain, a fellow who made his mark with literary humor and entertainment, once said, “A photograph is a most important document, and there is nothing more damning to go down to posterity than a silly, foolish smile caught and fixed forever.”
There are a ton of given reasons why Victorians didn’t smile in photos, such as long exposure times, high costs for having portraits taken, possibly poor dental hygiene, and, perhaps most importantly, it was simply seen as bad etiquette. But luckily, there’s still some evidence that Victorians just couldn’t help cracking a smile or breaking the usual stiff pose every now and then.
If we take a look at the photos below, we’ll see that people back then weren’t so different from us, even though they always seemed to look harsh and stern when taking photos. But we have to keep in mind that back then, photography was a totally new technology and quite rare; not like it is today. We also have to keep in mind that these people, as well as those who weren’t laughing when they had their picture taken, as well as those who never saw a camera in their life, are all gone. This is pretty much what’s left of them after more than one hundred years.