Victorians did some good stuff. Inventing the light bulb (though Edison was a thief), the car (though it's ruined the planet) and ushering in the Industrial Revolution (though they had some issues with health and safety). However one of the greatest inventions was the camera, well photographic processes and film anyway. But the one thing you think of when thinking of photographs from this era is just how miserable and stone faced Victorians were. My word, were they a dull and lifeless bunch? But have you ever asked the question why? No, well I did.
Secondly, dentistry in the Victorian age was well......well, it wasn't. You invent the telephone, but don't bother to clean the rancid halitosis that emanates from your germ infested talk hole. Nice. Well done. Worried about the germs on your smart phone screen now? Just don't go back in time and let a Victorian use it. I can only assume that the people that didn't fear the dark lord "Henry" and smiled at the camera, possibly killed the photographer with their eggy breath stench. Perhaps this is the reason why it took so long for the evolution of photography to progress? We had to wait for universal dentistry to become mainstream as there was a sudden rise in egg breath deaths amongst the pioneering photographers.
Lets look at the loose facts. 1838 Louis Daguerre, took the first know image of people. A "busy" street in Paris. In 1870 Colgate mass produced toothpaste in a jar. The toothbrush didn't come around until 1885. That’s nearly 40 years of dead photographers. Presumably they just smeared their teeth in Colgate before the toothbrush. Imagine what camera's would be like today had Colgate pulled their fingers out and invented toothpaste earlier. Lazy.
Finally, Victorians were impatient. You'd have thought that a consistently miserable race of beings would have just jumped at the chance of dressing up in fine clothes having rods to prop up their backs to keep them straight (did Victorians ever slouch anyway) and waiting a while for something to happen, would have been right up their street? It’s a bit of a myth though that it took hours. In reality, although early techniques DID take hours, it only took around half an hour when it became cheaper than having a painting done. This would have been around 1870. Which by coincidence is when Colgate developed the smeary toothpaste. But did they smile then? Nooooo of course not. Mark Twain tells us why.......
However, despite all of this evidence proving that they were indeed, Soul-sucking, Henry fearing, talk hole infested narcissists, there were occasions when they did actually smile. https://www.flickr.com/groups/513477@N22/pool/page1/ Presumably all of these people were either, in order of probability :-
1. Serial egg breath killers - Think Dexter, but with a monocle and a penny farthing.
2. Permanently scarred with a smile by a workhouse "lord".
3. An atheist or believers of the flying spaghetti hoover.
4. A passive Mark Twain hater. They didn't want to do him harm. Just get on his nerves.
5. An early Colgate marketing team worker. Though I see no one with a smeary toothpaste smile.
So next time you have a photograph taken and stretched on a canvas, consider this. Victorians did smile. Eventually. Albeit with a fear of certain death. They literally took their souls gave them to Henry, for science, and placed them on film. So we could, a hundred and thirty odd years later, write a "blog" on a magical box about how miserable they might have been. What will someone write about this in 130 years time? Please let it be known though. We don't think the Devil exists on the internet, not in virtual reality anyway. But that Henry the Hoover, well, he's going to be about for quite some time...........