In our society it is expected that we "smile" when we have our picture taken. When I look back at antique photographs I notice that the people are not smiling. They all look very serious. Is it because it was war time and people really didn't have anything to smile about? Was it because they didn't like to show their teeth? Or was it because taking photographs back then was a big ordeal, and a serious matter. Sometimes the photograph that was being taken was the only picture they would ever have. Getting your picture taken back then took a very long time, so not only were the subjects very tired, sometimes they were uncomfortable and exhausted. Maybe they were just genuinely unhappy at the moment.
Nowadays, from the very first moment we crack our first smile as a baby, we are given positive reinforcement. Parents encourage their babies to smile and laugh. When the school photographer gathers the class for a group picture, you often here, "Say Cheese!". Some of group pictures are hilarious. Sometimes the photographer tells the students to say something like, "Pickles!" and all the kids' faces look so funny and they need to do a re-take.
I found a website called, "World's Smile", and they defined smile like this:
"A smile is one of the most beautiful things on earth. It is an international sign and symbol for fun and friendship but also for peace, freedom, tolerance and all the other positive things you can think of.
With a smile you make friends and - maybe that's the most important point! - you make other people smile too."
Hopefully in this day and age, people in general have a lot more to smile about. I now understand why the older generation or maybe different cultures don't necessarily smile in their photographs. Some people may feel better not "faking" a smile and I totally get that. Pictures of kids and people without a smile can be just as beautiful. Real emotion and real moments are just as important. I know someone who makes funny faces in most of the pictures I take. It's hard to get a plain old smile out of him.
Next time you're asked to smile for a picture, try to put on a happy face. If you're not sure you like your smile, practice in front of a mirror. Do you like to show your teeth? How much of your gums do you want to show? The best pictures are when it's a genuine smile. If the photographer can get you to give a real smile, all the better. If you're not in the mood for a smile, then just hold a neutral pose. If your in the mood to be goofy, feel free to and go ahead. I'm sure there will be lots of opportunities for more pictures.
Have a happy day! ☺