We tend to smile whenever we see someone we know pointing a camera at us. Every time we see a camera, we smile as if it’s a reflex. Before the 20th century, this wasn’t the case. Due to its rarity and for defying an age-old trend, a photo of a Native American lady smiling from 1894 quickly went viral online.
A Native American lady called O-o-dee of the Kiowa people is pictured in this photo taken by photographer George W. Bretz. This image shows her wearing an elk-tooth decorated fringed buckskin dress and standing next to a draped pedestal. The photo is an ode to O-o-dee’s indigenous roots and the remarkable craftsmanship of the Kiowa tribe. The way she charmingly smiled at the camera was another thing that people found strikingly captivating about her portrait.
Portraits taken during the 1800s usually feature subjects with straight faces. It seems that putting on a happy expression in front of the camera wasn’t a thing back then. As a result, O-o-dee’s photo portrays a happy-looking subject, which is essentially a rare one at the time.