Old Japanese Couple smiling and laughing. Tokyo, 2018

Photograph What Makes You Smile!

Dear friend, a practical idea: photograph what makes you smile, and brings a spark of joy to your life/day!

A problem I see with the modern-day culture of photography: there is too much emphasis put on capturing pain/suffering/misery in the world. While I do believe photographing injustice in the world is very important– we must also remember to document the joy, happiness, felicity, and beauty in the world!

I know for myself, when I studied a lot of “serious” photographers (like the work of the masters/Magnum photographers) — the aesthetic is dark, gritty, and I feel forces this philosophy on us that only “real, raw, and dark” photos are worthwhile.

In reality, I think one of our duties is to also capture joy! To be honest, I am a bit sick and tired of seeing all of this negativity in the media, social media, and the world. I want to see/experience/share more things which AFFIRM LIFE — which remind us, “What a great joy it is to be alive!”

A lot of my recent photos/videos isn’t “artsy-fartsy” in any regard– they are just fun, simple videos, that affirm my joy of living and life. And that is the feeling/perspective I want to share with you — make photos that bring a smile on your face! Photograph your loved ones, children, parents, friends, or strangers which give you optimism/hope/joy in life!

Interacting with strangers

For example, while here in Japan I picked up a few phrases in Japanese — and I’ve been loving it; it has given me the opportunity to communicate just a tiny bit with locals.

I’ve been photographing kids, waving at them, giving them high-fives, laughing, smiling, and sharing my love/joy with them.

I’ve also recently encountered this nice elderly couple in the arcades of Asaksa in Tokyo — instead of just snapping 1-2 photos and running away, I lingered, hung out, and chatted with them. I used my baby-like Japanese, but I smiled a lot, waved a lot, and said things like “Genki” (happy) and “Handsome” and “Kawaii” (cute!).

Old Japanese Couple smiling and laughing. Tokyo, 2018
Old Japanese Couple smiling and laughing. Tokyo, 2018

To me, I love making these kinds of photos– because sure, while they may not be the world’s most “original/unique/artistic” photos — they put a smile on my face, and encourage me to continue shooting, and motivate me to bring more joy to the lives of both my subjects and in my own life!

Why do you make photos?

So friend, as a takeaway point, ask yourself:

When you make photos, do they bring a smile on your face?


Scroll to Top