This W. F. Laraway image offers a partial answer to the question "why don't they ever smile in old pictures." Laraway's glass plate negatives weren't quite fast enough to capture this action, but these picnic-goers seem a little more relatable in their candid pose.
Photos were considered a formal event, similar to sitting for a portrait painting, so it was not proper to smile.
Ron Kikel on 30th April 2021 @ 8:31am
Based on most photos we see from that era, I didn't know people were allowed to roll around on the ground and laugh.
There is a Davidson photo in the HHR collection that shows a family laughing and having fun.
The landscape looks kind of odd!
L.E. on 30th April 2021 @ 12:41pm