Why didn’t people smile in old photos? For one, early cameras sometimes required a 15-minute exposure time, and holding a smile for that long was no small feat. But that’s not the only reason Victorians donned dour expressions in photographs. Some avoided smiling because they were frightened by the process since photo studios were often called “operation rooms.” Others kept their mouths closed to hide their rotting teeth. Instead of telling people to “say cheese,” photographers quite literally instructed subjects to “say prunes” to make their mouths look smaller. Support Weird History
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