Your wedding day is supposed to be the happiest day of your life. So, why do these people look like they're going to a funeral? But it wasn't just formal occasions. It was teens, children, and lots of people with mustaches. Why didn't people smile in old pictures?
The simplest explanation is exposure time. That's basically how much light a camera needs to record an image. The longer the shutter is open, the longer the film is exposed to light.
Early cameras and film did take longer. So the thinking's that it was easier to hold a serious expression than a smile if you were waiting minutes for your portrait.
See this 1838 picture by Louis Daguerre? It's blurry because it probably took 10 to 15 minutes to take. All the people presumably moved during exposure, except for this bootblack and a guy getting his boots polished. You pose for a normal picture and a blurry one came out.
有看到 1838 年 Louis Daguerre 拍攝的這張照片嗎？有點模糊，因為可能花了 10 到 15 分鐘拍攝。曝光期間大概所有人都在動，除了這位擦鞋匠還有正在讓他擦鞋的男子。你擺好姿勢要拍張普通的照片，結果出來的照片是模糊的。
But the problem was fixed. Rapid advances in film technology as well as commercial availability made it easier to take pictures quickly. By the 1870s, bleeding-edge photographers like Eadweard Muybridge were taking photographs that could split a second.
但問題後來解決了。隨著底片技術快速發展加上市面流通性增加，快速拍照不再那麼困難。到了 1870 年代，攝影先驅如 Eadweard Muybridge 等人已能在瞬間拍出照片。
To understand the real reason old pictures were so serious, you have to understand what portraits meant to people back then. Remember, before there were photos, portraits were painted. They were time-consuming, long-lasting and one-of-a-kind. That scarcity made the occasion pretty serious.
And that mentality carried over to early photographs. Mark Twain, a professional humorist, said near the turn of the 20th century that "there is nothing more damning to go down to posterity than a silly, foolish smile caught and fixed forever." This is the guy who wrote stories about jumping frogs.
攝影技術發展之初，人們繼承這種心態。幽默大師馬克．吐溫曾在 19、20 世紀之交說過：「一個愚蠢的微笑定格在相片中永垂不朽，沒什麼比這更荒謬了。」而這個人寫了個卡城名蛙的故事。
But his viewpoint was typical. Take for example the oddly popular practice of posing dead bodies for lifelike portraits. The photos weren't a snapshot. They were a passage to immortality, a record of one's existence. By looking at the exceptions, it's easier to understand why most portraits were so grim.
There are lots of smiling Victorians hiding in photo collections around the world. As early as 1853, Mary Dillwyn captured a boy smile on camera.
其實有不少微笑的維多利亞人隱身在世界各地的照片收藏中。早在 1853 年，Mary Dillwyn 就曾用相機捕捉到一名正在微笑的男孩。
Victorians were not constantly miserable. They just usually got serious when they thought a portrait was being taken. As cameras became more common and photography improved, aesthetics changed and smiles returned.
Later, movies expanded the possibilities of recording real life. Portraiture broke free from the technology and aesthetics of painting. They discovered the possibilities of a new medium.
People always knew how to smile. They just had to learn how to show it.