Photogenic Smiling

Updated: 31/07/16

Some History about Smiling in Photographs

smilingSmiling when we have our picture taken is so natural it would seem that people have been doing it since the camera was first invented. But if you’ve ever looked at old photos from the 19th century, you’ve probably noticed that people back then had serious, tight-lipped expressions on their faces in pictures. Was life so hard in those days that no one felt like smiling? No, that’s probably not it. There are a lot of theories as to why 19th-century folks kept straight faces for photos, and why the trend changed towards smiling later on.

Taking a Picture Back Then Took a Long Time

Before cameras, people didn’t usually smile when they had their portraits painted, probably because they had to sit for a long time for portraits and it’s hard to keep a smile pasted on your face for that long. The first people who ever sat for photographs may have assumed the non-smiling portrait tradition was logical, and besides, the first cameras required that the subjects of photos sit still for a long time too. The very first photo ever taken was taken from a window in France, and it took 8 hours to expose. That was in 1826, but by 1939 photos only took 15 minutes. Still, that’s a long time to sit with a smile on your face: hard enough for adults and probably even harder for children.

Getting Your Picture Taken Was a Serious Business

People in the past considered getting a photo taken to be a serious affair, sort of like getting married or receiving a college diploma. Today this may seem silly, but back then, people rarely owned their own cameras, and gathering the family for a portrait was time-consuming, expensive, and basically a big event.

Bad Teeth?

It’s true that people in the 19th century didn’t have easy or affordable access to dentists, and as a result, many people had bad teeth. But since bad teeth were so common, it probably wouldn’t have been a big embarrassment to show them in a photo. It’s unlikely; therefore, that this was the reason people didn’t smile for pictures.

Today it’s another story. Smiling in photos probably became popular when home cameras became available and affordable, and photography sessions ceased to be formal occasions. However it started, there’s no doubt that today smiling when you have your picture taken is virtually a requirement. And people who have bad teeth today know all too well that it definitely is embarrassing to smile in photos. Those Hollywood smiles are what people want to see in pictures, and if you don’t have one, you either smile with your lips tightly closed, or avoid having your picture taken at all.

If you’ve ever wished you had a better smile, an orthodontist in Manhattan Beach can help. Dr. Patricia Panucci is a Manhattan Beach orthodontist who is committed to working with her patients to help them achieve optimum oral health and a great smile. Her orthodontic practice, Beach Braces, offers several types of braces including metal, clear, Invisalign and lingual (behind the teeth) braces. Call Beach Braces now for a consultation appointment and start on your way to a better smile, and better pictures.

Beach Braces
1730 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Suite B, Manhattan Beach
CA 90266
TEL: 310-379-0006
Fax: (310) 379-7051

Photogenic Smiling

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