When you think of photographs, what is one of the first things you think about? Smiles are my guess.
Smiling has been a part of pictures for a long time. In early pictures, everyone really looked mean and sad in pictures. Maybe it was because they had to get dressed up. Maybe it was because they had to hold still for the long exposure times that were required to make a technically correct photograph. Maybe they didn't have enough fiber in their diet. I really don't know why they didn't smile, but I'm guessing one day a photographer was taking a picture and said or did something stupid that caused everyone to smile and from that point somebody's mom decided smiling looked better in pictures and photographers should tell silly jokes.
I've certainly made my share of bad jokes, worn bunny ears and broken out the whoopee cushion to get a pleasant look from a model. Smiles are great but every picture doesn't have to include a huge toothy grin. I've worked with a lot of clients young and old who think they have a bad smile, but I have yet to find someone who truly has a bad smile. I've seen many different smiles, but not a bad one.
I'm pretty sure they got the notion that their smile was less than desirable by being asked to smile with no good reason to do so other than to have a picture taken. If you want to see some really unusual faces, just walk up to someone and suddenly tell them to smile. Getting someone to look good in a photograph is an art and a science. Smiling is nice, but not required for a great photo. Most people look best with simply a pleasant look, not a strained or forced smile.
What makes you smile, a funny joke, a silly face? Do you smile when you say cheese? I'm not sure why we say cheese and I really don't find cheese that funny. I think it is because when you say cheese you can't stop the corners of your mouth from curling up into something similar to a smile. So go ahead and smile. Smiling is a great thing, they say smiles are contagious and make people wonder what you are up to.
(Brent Kepner is the owner and photographer at Foto 1 Pro Photo in Elkins. He is a Master Photographer as well as a Certified Professional Photographer.)