Friday, February 1, 2013

Casual Friday: Laughing for the Camera, c. 1890s

Friday, February 1, 2013
Isabella reporting,

We modern folk are at ease with photographs. Thanks to (or cursed by) smartphone cameras, every aspect of our lives is photographed and shared with alarming ease. But for our 19th c. ancestors, photographs were serious business, involving a trip to a studio and best clothes for the occasion, a definitive record made for posterity. Considering how most ordinary people had their pictures taken only a few times during their lives, it was serious. (See here.) In addition, early photographic equipment required the sitter not to move for several minutes, and it was much easier to hold a solemn expression than a light-hearted one.

All of which makes this series of pictures all the more special. This fond couple clearly began their sitting with the best of intentions. But before long, the lady succumbs to the giggles, and the gentleman happily follows.

I wonder what set her off. Did her partner whisper something sly and teasing behind his moustache? Did his stomach rumble? Did the photographer trip and fall, or did someone else in the room make a funny face or otherwise misbehave? We'll never know for sure, and it doesn't really matter - it's still a charming moment of delicious silliness, preserved for all time.

I wish I could share more about these pictures. They were originally part of a set of vintage photographs on Flickr, but the original poster has since deleted it and disappeared. In the way of the internet, the image still lingers on tumblrs, websites, and Pinterest, but without any attribution. If anyone knows more about these two, I'll happily update.


Elizabeth said...

Very sweet - I can't help but think the people are so austere in these older photos, so it's wonderful to see this. It definitely made me so curious to know what happened!

Jenny Girl said...

You never see old photos like these! How sweet and in love they look. Brought a smile to my face. Thanks ladies :)
Happy Friday!

Ana said...

Awww, this melts my heart :) !

A.W. McQueen said...

I love this post and the picture. Have you ladies seen this site on Flickr?

This is from the Smiling Victorian Group

A.W. McQueen said...

Also here is quick link on the various types of photography. Look under the photos to see how much the cost!

Tintype was the cheapest and fastest (exposure time) type of photography but used after the 1850's.

The first known photo was taking around 1837 right at the infancy of what is termed the Victorian age. though the process would have been a daguerreotype which indeed could take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes depending on exposure and size of the subject. Could you imagine sitting that long?

The photobooth was not presented to the public until the late 1880's with a fully functioning booth around the mid 1890's. So the laughing couple would have occurred after 1896(official automated machine).

:-D More than you ever wanted or needed to know! LOL

A.W. McQueen said...

Sorry, forgot the link:

Die Werkelwütige said...

Thank you for this heartwarming picture!

Charles Bazalgette said...

How nice! I have a couple of pictures of my gggfr and his sister when she went with him to the photograper's when he had been called to the bar. One is serious but the other shows they have changed clothes!

Regency romance author, Donna Hatch said...

These pictures made me smile. I do wonder about the cause of her giggles and obvious embarrassment. I guess photography was faster at this point in time or the pictures would have been all blurry with the couple moving that much.
So cute! Thanks for sharing!

Alison Goodman, author said...

To me it looks like he's given her a sneaky tickle or rib-poke. Sweet set of pictures, though, and so nice to see a different photo "side" of the Victorians

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Glad everyone liked these pictures - I just love this couple! :)

Lizzie, I do know about the Smiling Victorians on Flickr. In fact that's where I first saw this, probably a couple of years ago. I'll be sharing other images from the group in future blogs. There are so many wonderful ones to choose from!

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