The importance of smiling

Table of contents

We celebrate World Smile Day tomorrow Friday, October 6, 2017 and, for such a special occasion, we would like to share an amazing photography project about the importance of smiling. We are sure these photos will change the way you look at strangers or you look the world and make you think about the effect of the human smile on a stranger’s face.


Sometimes all it takes to make the day better is a smile, whether it’s one someone gives to you, or one you share with another. Little acts of kindness can bring a shining smile to someone who has otherwise had a terrible day, and it can change everything that follows.

Whether it’s just a simple compliment to help brighten their day, World Smile Day encourages us to take action to bring a few more smiles into the world.

That´s why we want to make you smile with this special post blog!

To mark World Smile Day tomorrow (October 6), we would like to introduce you “I asked them to smile” (by Jay Weinstein), a minimalist photography project exploring the smiles of strangers around the world.

This Project help discovers something about us. How do we react? What do we know? Is it important to smile? In any case, these amazing pictures will warm your heart!

Photographer Jay Weinstein captures and shares the experience of meeting strangers through the lens. In this project, he takes two photos of each person — one with a regular expression, and one after he asks them to smile. It shows how a simple smile can change the entire appearance of a person and make them seem that much more approachable and relatable.

Inspired in December 2013, so “I asked them to smile” is a minimalist photography project that explores the smiles of strangers. It follows the adventures of India/Australia based photographer and travel guide Jay Weinstein by featuring some of the countless people he meets.

Originally started in India, the project now also includes images from Nepal, Australia, China, and Kenya. As Jay’s travel increases, more countries are added.

So “I asked them to smile” has no overt message. Its goal is to recreate the mindset from which we view a stranger, and then witness as our assumptions transform with their smile.


So there are no names. No occupations. No confirmed religions or ethnicity. No intriguing life lessons or heart strumming anecdotes. Just one human face.Without, and with a smile.

Photo by Jay Weinstein 


How the project began?

“December 2013. I was on a photography trip to Bikaner, in the deserts of Rajasthan, India. Near the busy train station, I saw a man I wanted to photograph. I hesitated. The look in his eye and his stony, stern look intimidated me. It’s always that moment of hesitation that kills a shot! I ended up avoiding him and photographing other subjects until I heard his jovial voice, “Take my picture too!”. Camera lens focused, my finger poised to fire. ‘Smile’, I called out. And he was transformed. His face radiated warmth, his eyes sparkled with a humor I had completely missed. Even his posture softened. I knew then what my next project would be. So “I asked them to smile” was born. I wanted to document the effect of the human smile on a strangers face. In the days, months and years that followed, I asked random people on my photography adventures (mostly on the streets of India) to pose unsmiling and with a smile. These images are the heart of my project. Its goal is to recreate the mindset from which we view a stranger, and then witness as our assumptions transform with their smile. So there are no names. No occupations. No confirmed religions or ethnicity. No intriguing life lessons or heart strumming anecdotes. Just one human face. Without, and with a smile.” — Jay Weinstein


“I realized 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.” — Jay Weinstein

Photo by Jay Weinstein


About the Project 

What is a smile but a few facial muscles pushing the edges of the lips upwards? Yet this simple act, even if forced, transforms the entire face and changes the way a person is viewed. It is universal; overcoming religion, ethnicity, class, gender, and language. The ‘…so I asked them to smile’ project was conceived to document this transformation clearly, and without pretension.

It does not wish to tell viewers if they should or should not smile nor overtly make ‘profound’ statements. Rather this simple and insightful project speaks through the images. It allows viewers to spend time with the portraits and notice their own reaction and thoughts.

Photo by Jay Weinstein

About the author

Jay Weinstein is a Mumbai-based, Hindi-speaking, Australian travel guide and photographer. At the age of 3, he moved to India. With his schoolteacher parents, he spent the next 12 years living in Vrindavan, a historic town filled with temples and monkeys, two hours south of Delhi. His family traveled often, and Jay found himself in an unending river of language, food, culture, and art.

At 15, his family moved back to Australia to facilitate his secondary education. Though Jay thought he was done with India, he ended up returning year after year, drawn by her overpowering, vibrant, chaotic cadence. His passion for photography began on these trips.

Jay finally moved to Mumbai in 2004, hoping to become an actor. With his fluent Hindi and Western look, he soon landed roles in a number of TV shows, films, and commercials. His profession allowed him to be on the road again, this time from the humid, lush, palm-dotted southern states to the frigid mountain towns of Nepal; the ancient, war-ravaged forts of Rajasthan to the unending paddy fields of West Bengal.

These journeys continued as Jay shifted his focus to film production and later advertising. These gradually transformed into the full-time travel, guiding and photography he is addicted to.

His current project …so I asked them to smile originated towards the end of 2013 in Bikaner, Rajasthan, while on one of these adventures. The project has grown to also feature China, Kenya, Nepal, and Australia, and will expand further in the coming months.

Jay brings to his work a unique charm and an eye for hidden beauty. Through the easy rapport he builds with his subjects, he creates unforgettable images that transport one to the heart of India and its people.

You can contact Jay on Facebook

Follow his adventures on Instagram

photo by Jay Weinstein

‘…so I asked them to smile’ shows that we are all fundamentally the same regardless of nationality, gender, religion, or socio-economic status. It humanizes, making people more approachable, and that is what we love about it.

Join the celebration this year on Friday, October 6th, and “Do an act of kindness. Help one person smile”!

Moneytrans, making people smile!





The Moneytrans team has been specialising in financial services for migrant communities around the world for more than 20 years.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related posts