life begins where the comfort zone ends

The smile detector

I love taking portraits, but I if there’s anything I really detest, it’s images of people with a fake smile. In my opinion the ‘say cheese’ thing has become so normal these days, that we are having more and more trouble distinguishing between a genuine smile and a fake one. There are even camera's and apps on the market with smile detectors. They will only take a shot if everybody in the frame is smiling. 'This will result in hilarious moments and pictures with friends and family.'

Just how pathetic and sad is that? How can an image of anyone be good if he’s pretending to be something that he’s not?

To me images of people are so much more powerful when they give us an insight in what’s really going on. Whether happy, scared, mad, sad or full of joy – I consider it a privilege that people give me the opportunity to have a look, or a glimpse at least, into their soul. And in my opinion I would completely destroy that precious moment with the words ‘say cheese!’

I guess if you have a look at some of my portraits you'll get the picture. This shot one is just an example. While sailing along some of the most Eastern islands of the Indonesian archipelago we visited one of the tiny little villages dotted along the coast. This man was smoking a cigarette and chatting with a few other guys - just like old men do anywhere. His blue eyes really struck me (it turned out he suffered badly from glaucoma).

Can you imagine what this portrait would have looked like if I had told him to smile just before releasing the shutter?

Indonesia2012-0159-thijsheslenfeldb.jpg