I recently posted some images of my mum when she was a little girl, ( she’s 76 now ), along side another image when she was in her twenties and I noticed that she wasn’t smiling in the old family photo and neither were her siblings. A pending mother’s day prompted me to look at some older photos of her. I wondered if her parents had wished that the kids were smiling when they first saw the print.
When I look at the photo I don’t think it really matters that they look a little more serious. Back in the day they would have had to keep very still as the exposure times were much longer.The photo is important to me because I can see what my mum looked like as a little girl. I don’t mind that it’s serious. I would imagine that in 1943 when they visited the professional studio in the small island of Mauritius that they may not have seen a camera before and were probably overwhelmed or intrigued about what they were doing. For me their expressions add to the magic of the image.
It’s wonderful with digital technology how we can shoot plenty of photos to capture candid and joyful moments. In fact this is one of my favourite aspects of family photography. At Image Technique I love creating a comfortable and relaxed environment and letting kids and families be themselves but I also believe there is a beauty to behold in the stillness of a more gentle or serious expression or even the anticipation that an infant sometimes displays when they are being photographed.
There are many expressions that make great family portraits, smiling is only one of them.