When photography was first introduced and became popular, it was a lengthy process, with prolonged exposure times and the requirement for the sitter to remain still throughout the process. This proved to be particularly difficult when dealing with children, and photographers often dreaded their visits to their studios. Neck and back braces might be used to help to prevent the child from moving during the photography, and this helps to explain the rather fixed look on the faces of many children.
As exposure times shortened, children were photographed more frequently. Wealthy families had their children photographed at least once a year to record growth, and important stages in development were symbolised by a change in clothing style. Little boys wore dresses until about the age of five, then short trousers until about twelve, when they adopted long trousers like adult men. The age of girls was indicated by the length of their skirts: short for little girls, calf-length for teenagers, and ankle length after 17, when they were considered grown up.
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