Saturday, August 15, 2009

Why do People Smile For The Camera

I mean, really? Not just because you're told to, because that just leads to the question of why we are told to smile for the camera, or even why we are expected to smile for the camera.

Even I- and I'm not a fake smile kind of person- find myself pasting the fakest smile I can on my face for a photo that takes f...o...r...e...v...e...r... Because for some reason you're supposed to pose and smile before they figure out which button is the 'just push this' one. And then it takes three minutes for them to decide they've got everyone in the frame. And another two minutes for everyone to stop blinking or yawning or sneezing or deciding to go eat some more watermelon and they never liked family reunions anyway. And one more minute for luck.

I'm not a happy picture-taker's subject. I'm more like a wildlife shoot. If you want a picture of me, don't say a word, just keep pointing and shooting and a good picture will happen eventually. No, I won't be looking directly at you. No, I won't be trying to melt the film through focused glaring either. Yes, you should just get over it.

But really, why do we smile? When cameras were just beginning, people didn't smile. They scowled. They looked uncomfortable. They looked grouchy. They even blinked. So why do we need to smile all the time, even if we don't feel like it?

Possibly the answer lies in our materialistic, I-don't-care-if-I'm-not-rich-so-long-as-people-think-I-am culture. We don't care if we aren't happy (actually we do care, how couldn't we?), so long as everyone believes that our life is perfect. Smile for the camera.

And possibly not. Maybe we just find fake smiles really attractive and revealing of our inner selves.

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Hmm. I think that people didn't smile back in the day because it took FOREVER (not your 3-minute version of forever, mind you) to take the picture, and it just wasn't possible to hold a smile that long. Everyone looked serious and grouchy, leading me to think that life in a black-and-white world was no fun! (;

    But WHY do we want to smile, or want others to smile, when a camera is out? Think about everything a smile conveys. Not just happiness, but the best side of a person. Openness, approachability, optimism, and that little twinkle in an eye that just makes you warm up to someone.

    But that's not a FAKE smile. Fake smiles just look uncomfortable. That's why I like the sneak-up-on-you method, or the make-you-laugh-so-hard-you-can't-possibly-put-on-a-fake-smile method. (: