Long before smartphones, selfie sticks and one-swipe filters, having your ‘perfect’ picture taken took practice, preparation and plenty of posing.
Early cameras and photographic materials required the sitter to be still for many seconds. While this is often given as the reason for a lack of smiles, a more likely reason is that early portrait photography followed the format of traditional portrait painting. In the nineteenth century, props, backdrops, costumes, animals and touch-ups were all used to help create the perfect portrait.
Photographs are for sharing and people have always wanted to look their best.
By taking a look back through the museum’s collection in Posing, Not Posing, we not only seek to understand the history of portrait photography but understand how we present and see ourselves.