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'His face transformed'

A stern-looking man teaches a photographer that we often miss out on meeting lovely people.

Jay Weinstein loves to travel and photograph India and her beautiful people.

He tells Jacqui Hocking about how he was inspired to capture smiling and unsmiling versions of people, to help discover something about ourselves.

"A couple of years ago I was in Bikaner, in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Camera in hand, I was exploring palaces and forts for a travel project I was going to be leading.

It was getting dark and I decided to wander towards the train station.

Amongst some bicycles and parked scooters stood a man who I wanted to photograph.

However, the stern look on his face caused me to assume he would object to my camera.

So I approach his more jovial friends in the shop he was lurking near.

As I photographed them, he called out in Hindi: 'Take a picture of me too.' 

Happily, I turned to face him, camera in hand, and asked him to smile. 

His face transformed.

He was a different person with that grin!

I realised then that most of us are strangers.  And we read and project a set of values based primarily on facial expressions.

We also don't take much time to jump to our conclusions and move on.

Thus we miss out on meeting some really lovely people.

I thought it would be fun to capture a smiling and unsmiling version of some of the people I met on my photography walks.

I wanted to recreate the experience of meeting strangers, no names, no stories; just two versions of a human face.

The purpose of this project, like a mirror, is to help discover something about us.  How do we react? What do we know? Is it important to smile?

To me personally "So I asked them to smile" shows that we are all fundamentally the same regardless of nationality, gender, religion, or socio-economic status.

It humanises, making people more approachable, and that is what I love about it."


Find out more about So I Asked Them to Smile.