8 Times People Were Caught Smiling in Old Photos

As we pointed out in our article on Why people didn't smile in old photographs, people in the late 1800s and early 1900s thought that smiling in photos made them look foolish.  However, there are a handful of rare photos that captured genuine happiness, smiles, and laughter during this time.  Here are eight of our favorites because they capture that moment of spontaneous smiling -- nothing posed about these!

Smiling maids in Victorian England.  You can tell that one of them must have just said a joke or some funny gossip.  The smiles are so genuine!  The girl in the bottom right seems to assume that the photographer isn't going to take the photo while this is going on, and the maid behind her has just decided to let it all out!

Happy Kids in the Country.  We haven't been able to track down the history of this photo, but it appears to be brother and sister, likely at a country picnic or event.  Our guess is that they did a "hat switch" and that's why they can't help but smiling.


Alfred Tennyson and his photographer Julia Margaret Cameron often attracted merry revelers to their studio estate.  This photo captures a moment of true happiness - check out the two older ladies in the back - they couldn't keep it in either!


Mother and Daughter Joking Around.  You can picture the scene of this late 1800s studio.  The daughter had already done her serious pose, and was likely joshing around with her mom and thankfully the photographer caught it!

Giggling in the 1870s.  We're all familiar with photographers who do all they can to get a kid to smile for a photo, but it's hard to think that a photographer would have done this intentionally 140 years ago!  Something must have happened!


Spontaneous Laughter circa 1910.  This is another mystery photo, apparently from around 1910, that captures a young lady who has had "quite the tickle"!


Beach Fun Circa 1900.  There's nothing like a day at the beach to get you smiling.  We love this photo!


Laughing Fit in the Photo Booth.  This early 1900 photo captures the steady comic meltdown of an apparently stoic couple.  If we had to guess, we'd suspect the gentleman may have given her a little tickle in her side, and she tried to fight him off, then got embarrassed because she was smiling!  Hope you've enjoyed these photos!

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