Recently I found out I wasn’t the only person who wondered why nobody ever smiles in old photographs. I just sort of assumed that life was hard and awful and there would be no reason to smile. This story revealed that people didn’t smile because of the long exposure time. I guess it’s easier to keep a neutral expression. It was also a really big deal back in the day and people treated it very much like they were getting their portrait done which I guess you also don’t smile for. The author of the article took contemporary society to task for all the selfies we take these days and the throwaway nature of getting your picture taken today. It just doesn’t mean anything anymore.
My question for you is this: What do you think people a hundred years from now will think about us based on our photographs? Let’s assume they don’t have any context. That all they see are millions and millions of pouty duck lips.
Ahhh the selfie! A word I despise. I stubbornly refer to them as self-portraits. “Selfie” just irritates me so much, like that other hideous word, “bestie”, strangely though I don’t hate the word beastie.
I digress. I’m sorry.
I miss the old days of getting your picture taken when you were alone. There were only a few options. Number one was to try and suss out a relatively sane and friendly enough passer-by to take your picture. In those “do you mind taking my picture?” shots it’s hard to look relaxed let alone photogenic because you’re terrified the passer-by will (a) run off with your newly purchased Nikon (b) get their greasy paw prints all over the lens or (c) or be absolutely fucking clueless as to how to operate it.
The second option was the self-timer move. But seriously who wants to perch their camera on a precarious ledge and run back to try to fit in the frame and look decent. Is it really worth it? Nah. Take a picture with your eyes and commit it to memory.
The third move is something I still do to this day, as I do not have a smart phone. I have a tiny phone with a key pad that actually looks like a pocket calculator. (all you bitches think I’m texting, but I’m just adding.) This Fisher-Price version of a cell phone does not allow for me to take the dreaded “selfie”. However, I do have a camera that I sometimes carry with me.
The other day I was alone at the beach and the way the sun was shining filled me with a feeling of romance and whimsy. I asked the lifeguard who was just standing there to take my picture. He declined. He was just standing there, arms folded, looking impervious, staring out at the horizon. Pffft. I’d like to have that job. I was forced to hold my camera up, lens pointing towards me, at an angle and get what I hoped was my smiling face set against the backdrop of sparkling water. After a few clicks, I checked out what I had taken. Hmmm. Didn’t capture my smile or the water. I did, however ,get to see that my centre part was a bit ragged and uneven, and time for another dye job.
As to your question, what will people of the future think when confronted with a barrage of these doe-eyed pouty lips staring at them? If they’re anything like me, they’ll look at the Kim Kardashians of the world and think, “I’m glad you can turn yourself on, but do you really have to oppress us with that shit?”
I liked us better when we just grimaced and said cheese