Afshin Ommi

This conversation is closed.

Why do we usually smile for pictures?

Why do we usually smile in our pictures? We are just walking around and talking and ... suddenly when the camera comes up we all become so happy! Does it have something to do with the camera, Is it because the camera is a funny thing?
And when the camera thing finished, as if nothing has happend, we become as dull as before!
Can someone please explain, What's happening here?!!

  • Mar 13 2013: I used to care for new born babies.
    There is a received opinion that babies don't smile straight away...that the first smile is so many weeks on.

    However, I did used to believe that the tiny ones DID smile, after a few days or so. It was mostly a smile in the eyes and a few twinges around the mouth - not a fully formed conscious lip smile, but something.
    They came maybe from contentment, but with something extra, that I can only describe as connection, or recognition. I think this is the feeling that later on becomes a sense of belonging.
    So maybe it's this belonging that is one of the things smiling is all about.
  • Mar 13 2013: I always used to refuse to do so as a child. I especially hated grown-ups telling me to 'Say cheese!'
    Then they used to tease me and say I looked too serious.
    I decided I didn't mind.
    • W T

      • +1
      Mar 13 2013: Sometimes I choose to smile with my eyes when my picture is taken, and not with my lips.
      It depends on my mood at the time the picture is taken.
      • Mar 13 2013: yes. I feel I decided quite early on that I wanted to be authentic (although I wouldn't have known the word!).
        I felt that one could be pleasant and benign without smiling, and I didn't like to be told I was 'bad' because I didn't smile .
        The eyes say so much. In painting portraits, which I have, if the smile is not in the eyes, the smile in the lips means nothing.
        • W T

          • +2
          Mar 13 2013: I think that it's fine to just be yourself when a picture is taken.

          It's interesting that I had that one little boy who perhaps wanted to smile, but because his mom told him "boys don't smile in pictures", he always put on a somber face. It was a very unusual case.

          I have at times gone through my photo albums and have been surprised to discover smiles on lips but sadness in the eyes of family members and friends.....kind of makes me want to travel back in time and ask what was wrong on that particular day.
    • thumb
      Mar 13 2013: Dear Reine Des Violettes,
      Too bad you were teased about smiling when you were a child. In most of my kid pictures, I am smiling or laughing, and THANKFULLY nobody ever told me to smile....or not to was not something I ever thought about, and it simply always felt very natural for mother smiled a lot too...even in the midst of great challenge:>)

      I totally agree with you and Mary....when one naturally, authentically smiles, the whole face lights up, including the eyes:>)
  • thumb
    Mar 13 2013: people might have a sense that a photo is a record that will be looked at many times, so they want to look their happiest. But if you don't want to smile for a photo, then don't, I usually only do a small, wry smile.
  • thumb
    Mar 13 2013: it is a lie
    • thumb
      Mar 13 2013: Krisztián,
      You say you're into truth and honestly. If smiling is a lie, why do you have such a sweet contagious smile in your pic?
      • thumb
        Mar 13 2013: this is the only picture i have
        • thumb
          Mar 13 2013: I like it Krisztián, and it reflects your new personality.......POSITIVE.

          "Krisztián Pintér 200+
          TED Translator
          19 hours ago: here is my offer: i start to be more POSITIVE....."
      • thumb
        Mar 13 2013: if ...
        • thumb
          Mar 15 2013: OH....I see Krisztián! Now comes the "fine print:" of the agreement........LOL:>)
  • thumb
    Mar 13 2013: It is just the practice, in days of yore it was the opposite.
    Google it.
  • thumb
    Mar 19 2013: .
    It is because of symbiosis ---- one of our important instincts for survival.

    (For details, see the 1st article, points 1-3, 4-8, at
  • Mar 17 2013: because the world is a game why would you want to remember how you feel if you put on a smile? why not just keep a straight face and when you look at the picture you'll remember the other feelings because yes smiling is more attractive then not smiling thought that was pretty obvious
  • Mar 17 2013: because we want others who see the picture in the future to know we are happy that's because happy is more attractive than sad
    • thumb
      Mar 17 2013: "we want others who see the picture in the future to know we are happy".
      I thought that we take pic. for ourselves, to help us remmember where we were and how we were feeling, I didn't know that the main philosophy of that is to show others how happy and attractive we are in all of our pictures!
  • W T

    • 0
    Mar 13 2013: To quote a song from Annie (the musical)..."you're never fully dressed without a smile"
  • thumb
    Mar 13 2013: Not long ago the camera simply meant your image was about to be captured for posterity, so look happy! Today it means your image may be viewed by millions worldwide in the very near future, so look happy!
    • thumb
      Mar 17 2013: I think looking real is more admiring than looking happy.
      • thumb
        Mar 17 2013: Posed versus candid photography is an age-old debate. I too prefer candid shots to preserve as memories. It seems more like I am looking at the person as they really were rather than the person they want others to see. People do not like to appear to be sad. Funeral Photographers are not in great demand. I see you are showing pearly whites in your avatar.
  • W T

    • 0
    Mar 13 2013: If you have nice teeth.....then why not show them off?
    OK that was my silly answer. :)

    I had a student once whose mom instructed him that boys are not supposed to smile for pictures.
    So when we took our class picture, sure enough....he's the only student with a serious face.

    I think it is kind of a custom to smile for the camera, because we usually take pictures of people in places and at occassions we want to remember as a wonderful time.

    I have never seen anyone take a camera to a funeral.
  • thumb
    Mar 13 2013: Afshin,
    Smiling is a choice, which is more fun and beneficial than the alternative. Do you know that smiling releases healing endorphins in the body/mind? Laughing and crying do the same. If a person is "dull" when not on camera, that is a choice s/he makes in any given moment. "Smiles are a carrier":>)
    • thumb
      Mar 13 2013: After reading your comment, I looked at your picture. Then Krisztian's. Then Afsin's and Pat's. I was already smiling. Then I saw Bob's picture. I laughed. Now can you imagine that? A laughing ape? :D
      • thumb
        Mar 13 2013: LOL! Yes, I can imagine any creature laughing. Bob's photo has laughing eyes, as does yours Pabitra:>)

        "Smile, and the world smiles with you":>)
  • thumb
    Mar 13 2013: In the old days long exposure time and poor dental health were reasons not to smile. Today we do not have that problem. We smile as a rule to expose our best image to all that see it. If you are frowning people would say who is the grumpy gus on the left. A bright smile may say I bet she is a lot of fun I would like to hang with a person like that. It is a way of being liked in your absence. That is very important to the ego.
    • thumb
      Mar 13 2013: That is a good point. I thought when we are happy the smile comes up itself, not we smile to show that we are happy.
      • thumb
        Mar 13 2013: Take it one step further Afshin.....smiling may help CREATE more happiness/contentment. Sometimes, if I'm feeling "down", I look at myself in the mirror and smile, or helps me feel better....smiling and laughing is good medicine:>)

        "Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused"