Ever wonder why people in old paintings and photographs generally don’t have smiles on their faces? We explored this subject a little back in November 2012, and found that reasons may have included technical limitations, oral hygiene, and the seriousness of formal occasions.
Photographer Alexandra Sandu is on a mission with her photos: she wants to put a smile on people’s faces and make people who see her images feel good about their lives. Since September 2009, Sandu has been working on a portrait series titled Daydreamers.
For each of the portraits, the photographer asks her subject to close his or her eyes and think about something beautiful. The instruction is reminiscent of Peter Pan: “Just think happy thoughts.” Read more…
Smiling naturally in photos is a challenge for many people. Even if you avoid the all-too-common “say cheese” mistake, that’s still no guarantee that you’ll come off looking good. So here’s a fully little video that offers some useful tips for those of us who (like Chandler) can’t seem to look even remotely natural when a camera is pointing our way.
The tips from start to finish include: say a word that ends in “uh” instead of “cheese,” laugh while the photo is being taken, lift the tip of your tongue up behind your front teeth, and relax your face (with the exception of your mouth and the corners of your eyes). Happy natural smiling!
“Say cheese.” It’s an expression that has become so much a part of our culture that everyone understands it to simply mean, “Smile,” rather than a command to actually utter the word “cheese.” For many people, smiling and posing for casual snapshots go hand-in-hand, but why do people smile for pictures, and when did this practice begin? After all, if you browse portrait photos created in the early days of photography — or even half a century ago — you’ll find the subjects wearing stoic, humorless expressions on their faces. Read more…
Heartwarming video alert: soccer fans snapping photos inside a London Olympics 2012 photo booth were given a surprise of a lifetime when soccer legend David Beckham randomly poked his head in. The video above — created by Adidas — captures the priceless reactions of the shocked fans. See if you can spot the die-hard Beckham fan (hint: he’s young). Read more…
Here’s a humorous short film titled “Smile” by director Dean Fleischer-Camp, who regularly asks people to pose for a photograph but then secretly records video instead. It shows how poses that look so natural in still photographs can look so completely awkward in videos.
The truth is no portrait of substance has people smiling. Look at the history of painting, Rembrandt, Titian, Goya, Velasquez, Sargent, Vermeer, DaVinci, etc., the subjects gaze to the viewer is neutral at best, neither inviting nor forbidding. It is there for the viewer to see and feel.
Smiling is like much of American popular culture, superficial and misleading. It is part of our vernacular, but it should be expunged in photographs.
You can find some famous portrait paintings made throughout history here. Virtually all of them support this argument.
Having a hard time getting a kid to smile? Children’s photographer Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman suggests botching children’s songs on purpose to draw out natural smiles and laughs:
I always warn parents that I can be a little kooky during shoots. And to brace themselves for bad singing. Just take a song every child knows like Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Now, change a word in it. “Twinkle, Twinkle little COW.” What? COW??!!” Seriously. This. Works. Every. Time.
The child cracks up and you can get some mileage out of the joke a few more times. You will start to get the smile before you even ‘fill in the blank’ after you do it once, because they anticipate the silliness. I usually do it one more time and say “Oh I am so sorry, let me try again. Twinkle Twinkle, little DUCK.” You get the picture. This works best for children who actually understand what the words are in the song, and aren’t too old yet to give you the ‘this woman is not smart’ look.
Do you remember how you felt when you get your hands on your first DSLR camera? Perhaps it was something like what this woman felt after receiving a Nikon D90. Even if you’re a Canonite or the Tin Woodman, this video will probably still bring a smile to your face. Nikon needs to contact these people and turn this into a commercial.