Although the advent of social media opened the floodgates on the taking and sharing of photographs of ourselves and others, people have been posing for the camera since photography’s invention. Early cameras required long exposure times, and for subjects to appear in focus they had to remain still for extended periods. By the late nineteenth century, photographic technology had improved: film became more light-sensitive and cameras became easier to use. Beginning in 1888, Kodak’s advertisements for its new, handheld cameras promised: “You Press the Button, We Do the Rest.” With photography accessible to a much broader audience, not only could anyone take a picture, but the pictures they took could capture people in candid moments of daily life. Such flexibility allowed photographers to challenge viewers’ assumptions about what is posed and what is unposed.


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