This is just what people had to do before the discovery of the “headpile.”
(submitted by Garland)
Holy cow i have a picture with the same people but they’re jst posin stiffly….
Throughout history, the Uticans have always been a deeply unserious people.
This picture is such a treasure. So innovative for it’s time, I’m sure!
Why do you think hats went out of style? Photographers got frustrated!!
I hope somebody in this picture chimes in and explains the story behind it – I’m dying to know.
Don’t hold your breath; few 140-year-olds are online these days.
i think this family is haunting my house as of this moment
The Von Trapp Family Singers – The Prequel
“So long, farewell, alvederzein, good-bye…”
Oh, please. that’s
a general German good-bye.
Too bad this family didn’t bring a compound bow!
Hey, I thought I did a pretty good job of guessing.
what a great photo! People in photos of this era usually look like the camera is about to steal a small piece of their soul. I bet this is a fun family.
People — by 1890 exposure times were measured in seconds, not hours.
I can only imagine the carnage that would result from a “headpile” what with the massive hat pins that women wore back then…..
I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS PICTURE!!! (no sarcasm; I really do)
What a treasure! I LOVE old photos. This one is especially wonderful.
As for the lack of smiling in old photos, not only was it due to long exposure times, but I read somewhere that it was also considered bad luck to smile in pictures. Not really sure why.
they were just too cool for those old times!!!
Aunt Marget would never get her picture taken, because of her spinal bifida til Uncle Carlton came up with this Idea!!! who would ever know she had a curved spine in this pic!!!
Um, spina bifida doesn’t cause a curved spine. That’s scoliosis. Spina bifida is a failure of the spinal cord to be enclosed within the body during fetal development. Just an FYI.
LOL Dianne, you got to my idea first! I was going for the ‘sisters’ discount on back braces” tack.
The dawn of chiropractic.
Sooo funny! I always thought those old timey folks, didn’t have any facial expressions
19th century photo studios had neck brace appliances to help during those long exposures. Obviously this shot was taken just after the great Utica earthquake of 1889. A bookcase fell on the stack of neck braces.
1890? Really? This is a treasure! I really like this picture. How cool to know your ancestors were zany madcaps!
I totally agree – I am sure humor runs in the family. They would probably think it was funny their picture has been listed here. (Or would have sent it in themselves.)
AWKWARD POSES THROUGHOUT HISTORY #17: Ye Olde Heade Tilte
i just laughed so hard i almost threw up.
I didn’t know PhotoShop existed in the 1890s?
The next picture features their Gatling gun.
You can tell that this pose was the brother’s idea. Look at his expression compared to those of the long-suffering sisters.
Those corsets are tight.
It’s not that people didn’t know what to do in photographs back then, they just couldn’t move at all because the exposure time was so much longer. If they moved, it would ruin the picture. So it was much easier to have expressionless faces (try holding a smile for several minutes straight). The first thing I thought of when I saw this photo was that they must have had sore necks after this was done! It is a great picture, though!
This gives the term “Tilt-shift photography” a new meaning.
I laughed hysterically at this comment. Geek photog I am. =)
Due to the long exposures of photography at the time, they may have had to hold that position for a long time. I bet they each had a crick in the neck by the time they were through…
I like this pic a lot! I think its cool, very creative for its time!
This makes me This makes me wonder what the first photographers did before the arm shelf was invented!
Also, considering that photography was only invented in the 19th century, this is a historic photo in awkwardness.
I think they leaned on a chair or a lamp table.
Those clothes look so uncomfortable.
Sadly, I’ve seen early photos with the arm shelf, of sorts.
This picture is awesome. Were jazz hands invented by 1890? If so, that would have made this picture even more fantastic!
Vintage awkwardness?? AWESOME! More, please.
P.S. I would SO have this framed on my wall…
i like how they all have this look of “Are we supposed to be having fun or not?”
I guess Quakers had totem-poles, too.
This is a picture simulating the frustration experienced when a lady with the giant hat sits in front of you in the movie theater….
Didn’t they have to sit real still because early photography had long exposure times? And it would probably have been fairly difficult to hold a smile or any facial expression at all for a minute or two or however long it too. which would explain why you see all those stoic expressionless faces in old time pictures.
This is very true. Also, having an image taken of you was serious business: previously you had to sit for a portrait, which was no small feat and not cheap. Even the early photos weren’t inexpensive. But as photography became more common and faster and cheaper it allowed for more relaxed poses – and awkwardness!
“Expressionless”? You mean natural. Photos from the 19th (and turn of the 20th) century are honest. Who walks around with a smile on their face all day except the Joker? A person should be able to take a natural photo without others badgering him about smiling.
@Herro I take it that people badger you about not smiling in photos. Lighten up. Some of actually do smile a goodly portion of the day. So there!
The only one smiling is the guy…because he’s not caged in a walebone corset!
oops, I meant “whalebone.” Sorry.
By the late 1800s, exposure times were already reduced to under a second.
Fess up! This was taken at one of those “oldtime” booths at the Amusement park
Take it from me: a headpile is nearly impossible whilst wearing a corset.
This is EXACTLY what I was going to say.
Or those hats!
This is actually pretty creative for an example of early photography. People didn’t really know what to do in front of a camera back then, so they usually just sat there without even a smile. This bunch (or at least the guy in the back) may have pioneered the “do something silly” approach.
definitely agree, great shot…
People had to be still for longer in earlier photography.
They also did not have the best dental care back then, and many times they thought their best look was lips closed.
Yep. They were thinking “in case people in the future with better dental care look at this photo, I better keep my lips closed.”
Cant. stop. giggling.
So cool to see this great moment in history caught (the first “do something silly” moment). I wonder if his next photo included the “bunny ears” on the person in front of you trick. Love this photo.
I love how the hats are so tall they have to tip their heads.
…or maybe their hats are so HEAVY that it’s making their heads tip!
Wow, that’s some vintage awkwardness right there!
I think it would be hard to do the head pile with those hats on.
Exactly! The head pile just wasn’t possible until people stopped wearing hats.
Someone would have lost an eye.
This picture is MARVELOUS!
Yes! I love it!
This may be the act that killed Vaudville.
The two women in the middle look awfully awkward. Pun intended!
That’s really cute.
I’m glad people back then could be creative and loosen up; in my family all the old pictures look creepy and could give less of a damn about their picture being taken!
Agreed. I love this photo because you can actually see the humanity in the subjects’ faces, versus the typical 19th century photo in which people are completely wooden and expressionless.
Yes, I love the facial expressions. Atypical for that time frame. An actual “snapshot” instead of a “portrait”.
Except that they had to hold that pose for an hour and a half.
I know! This isn’t awkward. This is REALLY cool!
Could you hold that position for 3-5 hours? No? Then its Awkward.
agreed! they’re definately not german! all my german relatives photos from that era portray the most stern, joyless, hardassed people youve ever seen. apparently smiling wasnt invented until like 1950.
Me too! I have a photo of my German relatives dated around 1940 and the youngest daughter has a half-smile on her face, everyone else is extremely grim. I’m sure the daughter was severely upbraided for her frivolity with the picture was developed.
“Olan Mills-Purveyors of Awkwardness since 1890″
The dude on the top looks like Charlie Chaplin.
No he doesn’t.
Have you actually ever seen Charlie Chaplin?
No one on earth has ever looked less like Charlie Chaplin.
All those people look the same. You know, the ones with black hats and mustaches.
J- I just laughed so hard at this I think I woke the neighbors… Nicely done.
Good to know the greatness of awkward photos has been around for over 100 years.
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