Smiling for photos is largely the result of marketing campaigns

From this week’s Dense Discovery email:

When looking at older portraits (first painted, then photographed) you would notice that very few subjects smile. As this piece explains, up to the beginning of the 20th century, “a grin was only characteristic of peasants, drunkards, children, and halfwits”. In the first half of the 21st century, camera company Kodak tried to make the experience of having your photo taken less awkward and more fun, and thus created a marketing campaign to emphasise the pleasure of photography. The photographic smile became a byproduct of an increasingly sophisticated advertising culture focused on telling cheerful stories about products.