No ‘cheese': Why people look so serious in old photos


War isn’t funny. Robert H. Kelly, Union soldier, photographed by Purviance at Fifth and Wood streets in Pittsburgh. | Library of Congress

Bad teeth? It took too long to take the picture?

Turns out showing your teeth when you smiled used to be frowned upon.

“There are some people who raise their upper lip so high… that their teeth are almost entirely visible. This is entirely contradictory to decorum, which forbids you to allow your teeth to be uncovered, since nature gave us lips to conceal them,” St. Jean-Baptiste De La Salle wrote in The Rules of Christian Decorum and Civility of 1703. Continue reading