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The Julius L. Greenfield Photography Acquisition Fund 2022.11.b
In the early decades of photography, many people did not know how to pose for the camera.
You rarely see a smiling portrait from the mid-19th century. Having your photograph taken was a serious and rare endeavor, plus it was difficult to hold any animated expression long enough for the exposure times required by the early processes. Sitters were instructed to find ways to keep from moving, such as clasping their hands. The woman here has taken the photographers’ cautions to an extreme, resulting in a tense and unflattering portrait.
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