A Victorian Photo Session
Ever wonder why Victorians always look so still and rigid in their photos? Staying completely still for 20 seconds, while relying on headstones and columns for stability, made portrait photography a challenge in the 1850s. Watch Lucy Worsley take on the tough task.
- [Narrator] What is it that Victorian's
in their photographs look so rigid?
- Well exposure times of this process varies
around twenty seconds or so.
- So you have to be utterly stiff
for twenty, thirty seconds?
If I move it spoils the picture?
- Well, yes, people would have head stunts
to hold them in place.
But until they would columns and pillars
to help to stay stable.
- You've just got to be as still as possible.
- Indeed, exactly.
- It's a good challenge.
- [Narrator] Fortunately,
I've been spared the head clamp.
- I'm going to take your picture
in three, two, one and...
- [Narrator] In the 1850's photography was
a past-time for the wealthy.
Victorian Albert actually had
their own dark room in Winsor Castle.
You can breathe.
- [Narrator] With a few more chemicals...
an image forms on the glass negative.
And voila, the Duchess of Worsley.
Magic, look! - Yeah, It's a very beautiful
process to watch. - I'm emerging!
- Oh, I don't look very happy do I?
And I know that I wasn't feeling grim,
it's just that I look like I am.
And that gives me a new insight into Queen Victoria.
Perhaps she was giggling inside?