Keeping still was one of the most difficult aspects of being photographed. It was so unpleasant that commentators likened visiting the daguerreotypist to visiting the dentist, and this was before pain relievers were invented!

Daguerreotypes could take up to several minutes for an exposure. Later developments reduced the time to about a minute. Ambrotypes and cartes de visite could take a few seconds to a minute. Tintypes took a few seconds.

< Drag >

Three women at Roton Point Amusement Park, Norwalk, CT | Tintypes | NM 05.93.62, NM 05.93.63 Norwalk Public Library History Room

Photographers placed sitters’ heads in metal braces to keep them still.

Very small children might be placed in weighted shoes, or their mothers might hold them.

In the photo above, the woman in the photo must have been laughing so hard that her image came out blurry. They are much more serious the second time. Luckily, tintypes were cheap.

Tintypes were made directly onto a piece of darkly varnished iron and could be cut into different shapes. Many amusement parks, including the one at Roton Point in Rowayton, had a tintype concession where visitors could obtain inexpensive souvenirs.