It’s taken for granted nowadays that mothers can photograph their little darlings anytime they like. Capturing every sweet, mischievous expression that crosses a child’s face is made easy by the smartphone camera always within reach. This is, of course, a recent development in motherhood.

Consider instead the hidden mothers of 19th-century photographic-portrait studios, when long exposure times meant moms had to find a way to keep their little ones sitting still long enough to be seen, while also fading into the background themselves.

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