Seaside History

Family Reunion

March 27, 2013 | by Nate Burke

Do you ever have difficulty keeping track of your family members?  Well then, try inviting them to Seaside!  The United States is an awfully large country and our respective kin can be spread out over some pretty vast distances.  Thank goodness for the family reunion.  This photo shows a family photo dated from somewhere during the late 1890s/early 1900s.  Seaside has always been a major magnet spot on the map where relatives can assemble from the far corners of the globe.   Especially now that spring has arrived, it’s a good time to dust off your antique dry-plate Kodak cameras and strike a pose with your clan.

Speaking of posing, consider the folks gathered together for this family portrait.  There are a few smiles in the crowd, but most wear serious expressions.  Why is it that so few people are smiling or hamming it up in historical photos?  Were they that much of a dour bunch?  Well, there are a few theories out there: one being the long exposure time of camera technologies.  At the time this photo was taken, exposure time had advanced to a minute or less.  That’s still a long time to sit perfectly still and hold a smile.  Also, in the 1890s a photograph was often a luxury, and folks posed with all of the preconceived intent as they would for a watercolor portrait.  A photograph was not seen as disposable, but something that could last an eternity.  In short, photos were taken with an intense eye towards posterity – this was serious stuff, hence, no goofing off.

It’s an interesting contrast to the present day where we encourage each other to smile for the camera and “say cheese”.  Thank goodness for instant exposure.

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