Photographer Praised For Not Forcing Girls to Smile in ‘Powerful’ Pictures

Photographer tells girls not to smile

A photographer has been praised online for not forcing young girls to smile when they are having their picture taken.

Photographer Brooke Light, who is based in Charlotte, North Carolina shared one of the main rules she follows when shooting girls: if they do not want to smile, then they do not have to.

@bdlighted never underestimate the power of a photoshoot for your kids confidence #moodymini #kidsphotographer #childrensphotography #portraitphotographer #confidenceboost #kidsconfidence #familyphotoshootideas #familyphotoshoots #studiophotography #blackandwhitephoto #girlpower #girlempowerment #donttellmetosmile #momsofgirls #girlmom #greenscreen ♬ Little Girl Gone

In a viral TikTok video posted last month, Light is seen holding up her camera alongside the caption: “When your photo shoots allow girls to show up, take up space, and not smile if they don’t want to.”

Light then goes on to reveal the portraits taken during her photo shoots — beginning off with a black-and-white image of a girl adjusting her hair.

Light then goes on to show other photos she has taken of girls. Some have their heads and bodies slightly turned away from the camera but all of them are opting not to smile in the picture.

In a caption accompanying the clip, Light explains the benefits of not forcing girls to smile when having their pictures taken: “Never underestimate the power of a photo shoot for your kids’ confidence.”

‘Powerful and Authentic’

The clip has amassed over one million views on TikTok, with social media users praising Light’s attitude. Viewers applauded Light for allowing these girls to be their confident, strong, and authentic selves in her photography.

“I’m tearing up because asking a girl [to] smile has too many connotations with it. These pictures are beautiful,” a TikTok user writes.

Another viewer comments: “I love how they are not trying to be anything ‘extra’ just their own raw and savage selves.”

@bdlighted these mom's got me blushing in my DMs 🫣📸 I've never had my creativity or my photography validated so much in my life. thank you for the outpouring of love on these photos this week. it's meant more than you can ever know. #boymom #boymoms #moodymini #familyphotoshoots #familyphotoshootideas #portraitphotographer #studiophotography #kidsphotographer #kidsconfidence #childrensphotography #greenscreen ♬ Area Codes – Kaliii

Following the positive feedback from viewers, Light posted a further TikTok video in which she revealed that she doesn’t make boys smile for photos either as part of her ethos of “no forced smiles, fancy clothes, or kiddie poses.”

A 2019 study found that 98% of women surveyed had been told to smile at least once in their life, and 15% said it continues to be a weekly experience.

Many of these comments happened in the workplace. Nearly 37% of women were last told to “smile more” at their jobs. However, 25% said it happened in public and 21% said it took place while they were at home.

By their own admission, women find these requests demeaning and offensive — with one expert saying that a woman’s smile can be as much a signal of joy as a sign of submission.

More of Light’s work can be seen on his Instagram, TikTok, and website.

Image credits: Header photo via TikTok/@bdlighted.