Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Age Of The Smile

Photograph of unknown family - 1920s/30s

Smiles - smiles on photos, at least - were a twentieth century invention: smiles on the faces of the subjects of Victorian photographic portraits are as rare as Trumpian truths. The reason was partly that Victorian cameras could only cope with fixed expressions - but it was also partly that they tended to be a miserable lot. By the 1920s and 1930s, people were more relaxed, and smiles began to appear, and this added a welcome layer of humanity to photographs. Once you achieved the technological ability to instantly see - and digitally enhance - your photographic image, things started to become unreal again, with blemishes banished and pouts propelled to prominence. For a few decades, however, photographic smiles reflected something like real joy and honest emotion. It was the age of the smile.


  1. What a kind comment on humanity.

  2. Do you think we might call our time the age of the frown? Or the selfie?

  3. I've always preferred a photo that captures people who are not aware of the camera, and appear to be going about their natural pursuits rather than posed. Candid shots have about disappeared with the constant camera phone selfies (as Mike mentioned.)


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