Watch the birdie

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What struck me about this group photo of 1913 is the naturalness of the people in the shot – somewhere between formality and fun. Evidently these are lodgers staying in the Dagmar Boarding House in Lowestoft. The owners are placed centre and I finally spotted a 17-year-old great-uncle in it, but that is by the by. So too is the salutory truth that many of these young men would have been recruited for war in the following years.

Today we are required to grin for our photographs, displaying our teeth like an advert for veneers. In primate language the open-mouthed, teeth baring is a sign of aggression and it has resonances in our society too. Instead of laugh for the lens or smile at the camera I think we should go back to just watching the birdie. And believe it or not, there is a company manufacturing said bird for camera. I’m not recommending it though its a cute idea (smile for me toys)


8 thoughts on “Watch the birdie

  1. 1) From what I know people stood still stiffly for photos in the old days, so the people in this photo seem exceptionally relaxed. 2) The way young people flash well-practiced poses for their selfies is one of the new, rather uncharming facets of our new world.


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