Family photos are great, no? I love looking back at cherished moments. Smiling faces set into paper, hanging on the wall in the hallway for all time. They say, "I was there and I was happy about it." Although that doesn't really fit in with the whole history of photography does it?
Let's travel through time shall we? Hop into my time modulator and let's journey back to the early days of photography. When photography was first developed people didn't really know what to do with photos. For portraits there was painting, duh, and for Facebook pics there were...oh wait, no Facebook! How did these people live? HOW? WHY? WHAT WAS THE POINT?
Oh, I digress. Anyway, early photography (did I mention I have an MA in art history? It's pretty obvious right, wink) was a strange phenomenon.There was no standard. Before then I think people were mostly living in caves and eating bugs, that's how it went right? The point is that people really had no idea what/ why they should take photos. Sure it was a novelty, but what was the point? Early on they did creepy things like photographing their dead. Then, thankfully, someone had the bright idea for family portraits that were more affordable than royal paintings. No, we're not talking laser background studio portraits at Kmart, not yet anyway. Obviously the average Joe couldn't afford to hire a painter to capture that certain je ne sais quois that their family possessed and so Joe began to think about family photos.
The early camera did not fit into your pocket (unless you were a giant, then perhaps) and the process of getting your family portrait was no small ordeal. You had to go to a professional, wear your Sunday best, sometimes people brought props. Most importantly you had to sit very still while you had your portrait taken lest you look like a blurry headed demon as the exposure time was S_L_O_W. So, early photos were generally not of smiling families. You did not want to hold a smile while you waited for that exposure. Your cheeks would cave under the pressure and your head would probably just fall off, better to keep a straight face.
Anyway, as technology progressed and people stopped living in caves eating bugs (I think the year was 1974) they also began smiling in photographs. The new standard was set. We now smile. We must smile. We can't not (double negative anyone?) smile.
I am just saying that is a lot of pressure. What if you're not feeling it? What if you happen to...oh say be at a corn maze with two families? How can you expect everyone to smile and freeze at the same moment? It is impossible. Don't believe me? I have proof. Feast your eyes on these puppies....
I wish I had a happy photo where we got it right in the end, but it didn't happen and I am pretty OK with that. These photos are way more real, this is what it is like to be in your 30s---to have kids and go to a corn maze with your friends who are in the same boat. It is funny, weird, embarrassing, wild, fun, all in one.