The Dalai Lama said, "A simple smile. That’s the start of opening your heart and being compassionate to others." Smiles have the ability to change one's whole day, and not only to the one that's smiling, but also to those who see a smile. It's just a simple expression, and yet it may be the most powerful, as it's the most positive one.
Jay Weinstein tests this idea in his project "so I asked them to smile" with an extremely diverse group of people, and the answer behind each and every one of his pictures is that a smile changes everything—not only the mood, but even the whole picture. His pictures also show that a smile is unique to every individual and that it's sometimes hard to know 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."
The author shared his passion for the project with Bored Panda: "What I love most about this photography project is that it forces me to face my fears and approach people I don’t know. It forces me to challenge whatever preconceptions I have of them and learn again and again how inaccurate my assumptions are. Most of all, at this time of division, 'so I asked them to smile' stands as a profound and loving reminder of how much we all truly have in common."
"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."
The diverse range of smiles that Jay brings is truly fascinating. From kids to the elderly, from east to west, and many different countries and cultures in between. The author seemingly scoured the globe to get as many unique smiles as he did. The diverse range of smiles that Jay brings is truly fascinating. From kids to the elderly, from east to west, and many different countries and cultures in-between. The author seemingly scoured the globe to get as much unique smiles as he did. He has started in 2013, and has been doing it for 7 years now. "I have spent most of my life, and much of most years, in India. I lead small group tours, photograph and explore this stunningly beautiful, complex, and multifaceted culture. Thus most of my images are from India. I have also brought this project to China, Singapore, Australia, Kenya, and Nepal. The dream is to one day take 'so I asked them to smile' to every country on earth. Let’s see what my time, finances, and the post-COVID-19 world look like!"
"She was playing outside her home in the village of Kakhsar, Gujarat, India...so I asked her to smile."
When asked about his favorite trip and who smiled the most, Jay was equally generous to each and every one of the places that he's been in: "That is a truly impossible question to answer! What is truly memorable for me is how sweet, kind, and friendly 99% of the people I meet are, in every country I visit, once I make the effort of talking to them. [In terms of who smiles the most] If forced to guess an answer, I would say India. I would also add that almost everyone I have approached, in every country, has smiled easily and with so much joy that it humbles me to share in that moment."
"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."
The author adds a little extra in his Instagram stories as he embeds them with a story of how he got the photo, what those people were like, where they were taken. Some say the eyes are the mirror of one's soul, and while we agree, a smile reflects the beauty of one's soul just as well. Make sure you check them out on his Instagram page because it's a great charge of positive energy for the entire day.
"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."
The author wrapped it up beautifully himself, saying that "The project has no overt message to convey, though it has plenty to say. What I hear from 'so i asked them to smile' is that we all have far more in common than we are told. I see a simple human smile speaking through whatever barriers class, economic status, ethnicity, sex, religion, or geographic location create."
"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."
And with this, we leave you to enjoy some beautiful smiles from beautiful people from far and wide. Smile more—it may not only change someone's day, but their entire outlook towards life. Show your support for this wholesome message by following the Instagram page! What about you? How do these images inspire you? Share in the comments!
"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."
"She was exploring the stunningly restored, 1300-year-old Kaiyuan temple complex one evening in Quanzhou, Fujian, China...so I asked her to smile."