I was at a wedding expo recently in Johannesburg meeting with brides- and grooms-to-be. I had decided to take my backup camera with me and offer couples a picture of themselves to remember the day and add some fun to an otherwise overwhelming experience. Most people playfully posed like models in front of my camera, more than happy to have their photo taken. When I encountered a couple who were hesitant to smile, I encouraged them to smile widely for the camera. Happy people are beautiful people after all. It was great fun.
I approached a couple after speaking to them about our wedding photography packages and asked if they’d like their photo taken. They agreed and away I snapped. But the bride-to-be wasn’t smiling; she was looking away shyly from the camera. “Big smiles guys! Give me big smiles!” I urged. She looked at me and said something to me that made me so angry:
“The last photographer who photographed me said I had a weird smile, so I prefer not to smile”.
I reassured her that she had a lovely smile, took their picture, and carried on with the day. But when I sat down to email our potential clients their images I was haunted by her words as I flipped through picture after picture of smiling faces. I was so angry to hear that a photographer would make such a comment particularly because her or his flippant comment had lasting repercussions.
We all have insecurities about how we look, and being in front a camera can be intimidating as you feel as though you’re exposing all those ‘flaws’ to someone else. A good photographer won’t make you feel uncomfortable about those ‘imperfections’; a great photographer will help you celebrate how unique they make you.
I don’t believe there is such a thing as a ‘weird smile’. Sure, someone may have a different smile, a unique gaze, an extraordinary expression. But for a true photographer, different is fantastic, unique is wonderful, and extraordinary is awesome!
Anyone claiming to be a photographer who fails to see that, fails to grasp the essence of what photography is really about.
So one bit of advice to the brides- and grooms-to-be out there: if your photographer ever makes you feel insecure about they way you look, ditch them.
Only idiots fail to see the beauty in something uncommon.