“A simple smile,” the Dalai Lama said, “is the beginning of opening your heart and being compassionate to others.” Smiles have the power to change one’s entire day, not just for the person who is smiling, but also for those who see a smile. It’s a simple expression, but it has the potential to be the most powerful because it’s the most positive.
Jay Weinstein puts this idea to the test with an extremely diverse group of people in his project “so I asked them to smile,” and the answer is that a smile changes everything—not just the mood, but the entire picture. His photographs also demonstrate that each person’s smile is unique, and that it’s sometimes difficult to tell how beautiful they look when they smile until they do.
“He was wandering home one evening with his friend, walking along the stone wall-lined lanes that cut through the lush fields of Hundar, in the starkly stunning Nubra Valley of Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, India…so I asked him to smile.”
“She was playing with her mom on a dirt lane off the main road as I explored the the vibrant and colorful shops and homes on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya…so I asked her to smile.”
“She was playing outside her home in the village of Kakhsar, Gujarat, India…so I asked her to smile.”
“She was walking with her friends one evening as I photographed a donkey enclosure in the beautiful and isolated plateau village of Turtuk, Ladakh, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India…so I asked her to smile.”
“He was hunched over the remains of a fire and empty pot of tea as I approached his house one afternoon in Muthatari, near Embu, in the Eastern Province of Kenya…so I asked him to smile.”
“She was playing on the streets with her friends one evening as I wandered around the old town of Leh, in Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, India…so I asked her to smile.”
“He was waiting in line at 7 AM outside the post office opening at 11 AM, that exchanges invalidated 500 and 1000 rupee notes for newly printed currency, in Jojowar, Rajasthan, India…so I asked him to smile.”
“He was playing with his brothers in the family compound, having just returned from school and discarding his uniform one humid afternoon in Nirdoi, a sleepy village on the banks of the river Ganges, in West Bengal, India…so i asked him to smile.”
“He was playing with friends and family one afternoon in the web of narrow lanes that make up the old part of the ancient city of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India…so i asked him to smile.”