One of the most frustrating things for me as a photographer are smiles. Actually let me rephrase that- one of the most frustrating things for me as a human are smiles. When I was growing up people would tell me to smile. I’d be in a good mood, but for whatever reason a person would perceive my expression to be something different, so they’d tell me to smile. As if telling someone to smile makes them happy, as if I wasn’t happy in the first place. Oddly enough if someone tells me I need to start looking like their definition of happy, even if I am happy, it puts me in a foul mood. The other thing about this phenomenon of human behavior that perplexed me is why someone would knowingly encourage another person to have a disingenuous expression? What is the purpose of that? Does a neutral expression somehow create such anxiety in a person that a fake expression of pseudo happiness is enough to placate it? It’s for this reason that I have never understood suggesting someone should smile. Then I became a photographer.

Smile for the camera. That’s another phenomenon. I can’t begin to tell you how many beautiful moments have been ruined by someone noticing there was a camera and smiling disingenuously. I can always tell the real ones from the fake. Where does it come from? It begins with the parents telling their kids to smile. I’ll tell you what- not much is as frightening as fake kid smile. So when I can manage to capture them before the parents can bark the smile order it’s a beautiful moment. This was one from a wedding I’m working on. Of course if she smiled she’d lose the pacifier, but still you can get where I’m going with this.

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