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The Power of a Smile

Published Jun 15, 2014 | View the Assignment | Features Photos From 27 Contributors

    27 photos selected by

    Marie McGrory
    Assistant Photo Editor
    • 0

    I met her while visiting my relatives in hospital. She was very nice, always encouraged her son t...

    #vietnamese #happiness #child #saigon #mother #woman #smile #vietnam #power_of_a_smaile #hospital

    Upon first thought, a smile seems pretty straightforward.  It is easy to picture friendly “hellos” and rooms of laughter. The range of emotions that came with building this edit was wider than I would have imagined.  Some smiles were subtle and showed a deeply complex happiness; like that of a man hugging his first daughter after having thirteen sons. Some were purely silly; three cousins ready for a snorkel adventure in a bathtub.  I’d like to start the story with this image by Giang- a quintessential smile. This is a smile you cannot look at without returning.

    I noticed pretty quickly that the edit had many more photos of children than I expected. As I looked into why this might be, I learned that children tend to smile more than adults. In fact, over ten times more than adults do each day, on average.

    For me, this story truly brought the expression “smiling is universal” to life. As the images travel across many countries and ages, we travel through lives and moments that everyone can understand and enjoy.

    This family are Ethnic minorities Call "Lolo" located at Lung Cu, Ha Giang Provine. In their holi...

    #hagiang #vietnam #vietnameses

    Editor's Note

    Things that come in threes are quite pleasing to the eye. This moment has it all. Two groups of three spread across the frame, three smiles and three things making them smile. The joy, the motion, the composition...great capture.

    Marie McGrory
    Assistant Photo Editor

    I was photographing a self-help group meeting for ex-sex workers in India as part of a story abou...

    #devadasi #people #portraits #empowerment #selfhelp #india #smile #joyful #sexworkers

    Yosef cradles his beloved daughter, the first girl following thirteen sons.

    #morocco #hug #daughter #family #shoemaker #love #cuddle #embrace #father #north_africa

    "Thank you... Apple, for adding a camera to the iPod Nano. Now it's just like the iPhone except i...

    #taegan #smile #portrait

    A slum boy returning from mid day meal school. his school bags was old and turn and his umbrella ...

    #smile_assignment #slum #summer #smile

    A child watches the solar eclipse in the yard of his family's house in Conakry, Guinea on Novembe...

    #conakry #explore #smile #africa #fun #adventure #space #science #cosmos #child #eclipse #travel

    I catched the spontaneous moment of childhood.

    #child #child_face

    Editor's Note

    I love this photo. Joy and curiosity in the simple things. I'm glad you got nice and low so that we're all on the same plane. Things seem fun down there!

    Marie McGrory
    Assistant Photo Editor

    A mother picks up her baby, playfully throwing him up before she kisses him.

    Editor's Note

    Perfect light silhouette around child's face. I love how fun and free the pose is, and the light pouring in around the mothers face. Beautiful image.

    Marie McGrory
    Assistant Photo Editor

    The cousins Liv, Magda & Vilson on a grand adventure in grandmom's jacuzzi.

    #elite #diving #jacuzzi #scubadive #scuba #swimmers #bathtub #kids

    Audrey, surrounded by her mother and supportive friends, smiles at her cake at her fourth birthda...

    #support #love #children #party #birthday

    Vivian was very happy and satisfied smiling at her four years old birthday cake with four candles...

    #happiness #happy #home #family #bokeh #smile #cake #birthday #vivian #light #candle #child #girl

    Miranda, immediately following her corrective cleft lip surgery. For many individuals, having thi...

    #mexico #smile #cleftlip #love #austintexas #veracruz #medico #smiles #veracruzmexico #rehab #surgery

    Smiling does have a very real power. This story brought to life the importance of our smiles, and all the complications that can come with having a problem like a cleft lip that may prevent us from showing our emotions, sharing a friendly smile or enjoying a joke as effortlessly as most of us do. 

    Wodaabe nomads inhabit the harsh lands of the Sahel in North Africa, their lives being totally ...

    #beauty #tribal_people #sahal #niger #wodaabe

    In African Traditional Society it is culture to seek the knowledge and wisdom from the elders. Gr...

    #people #magiqbaby #shootingkenya #travel #thepowerofasmile #africa #documentaryphotography

    I was walking around at a private zoo in Queretaro, Mexico. I was attracted by the newest member ...

    #animal #foal #colt #horse #pure #smile #love

    Happy grandmother , Yi nationality , Liangshan Sichuan

    #liangshan #sichuan #smile #wwwstevenchouvfxcn

    I heard laughter coming from the bathroom where my daughter was bathing, so I grabbed the camera....

    #bubblebath

    Doting Dog.

    #samoyed #husky #white #black #canon #smile #dog

    Editor's Note

    The two of them seem to be sharing a special moment with soft, friendly smiles. A wonderful image and beautiful light on the young boy's face.

    Marie McGrory
    Assistant Photo Editor

    During one of the quiet times between busy holiday errands, the kids sat down and played a game w...

    #christmas #boardgame #home #family #smile #children #game #kids

    A smiling, happy Maasai is photographed riding his bike over the Ngong Hills towards home.

    #ngong #bike #hills #smile #chris_minihane #africa #transport #mountains #red #maasai #kenya

    Working on a smile

    #hands #mouth #hygiene #i #iphone #cleaning #gloves #mirror #sunglasses #child #girl #dentist #teeth #smile

    Running through the crick with friends is sure to bring laughter and smiles galore!

    #boys #laughter #smile #portrait #crick #blackandwhite

    A smile which appeared at the end of row. Kids having swimming lesson.

    #smile #children

    children smiles are blessing

    Two people enjoying a ride in a Rickshaw in Kurashiki, Japan.

    #white #candid #black #monochrome #street #japan #city #place #fujifilm #people #travel #x20 #kurashiki

    Three days before Josh's wedding, his sister Amanda, surprised him with the best wedding gift he ...

    #reunited #people #brother_and_sister #black_and_white #smile #happy_tears #siblings #emotions

    Editor's Note

    You don't need to see the smile in this image to feel it. The tightness of the shot brings a beautiful intimacy to it. Thank you for sharing this image and story with us.

    Marie McGrory
    Assistant Photo Editor

    While a posed smile is easy enough for many, a genuine smile can be quite out of our control; from the cheek aching smile that started our story, to this emotionally hidden smile of a soldier reuniting with her brother before his wedding day. Many of the smiles we see each day are irrepressible. Whether they come with tears of joy or roaring laughter, keep letting them out, because they can be enormously contagious and good for your health!

    About the Editor
    Marie McGrory
    Assistant Photo Editor
    Marie McGrory is an assistant photo editor with National Geographic's Your Shot team. She believes photography can help us find the moments, feelings, and stories that transcend cultural boundaries. She looks at over 7,000 photos a day on average and loves every frame of it.
    234 comments
    Namtip Aksornkool
    Namtip Aksornkool

    Thanks so much for putting this together. 


    What a glorious theme. If I had it in my power, I'd make smile everyone's signature.


    It lights up one's eyes, brightens ones heart and frees one's soul.



    david charles edmondson
    david charles edmondson

    Beautiful!  It warms your heart to see a smile.  It has a lasting effect on everyday life.  If nothing is said
    and a smile presents itself, it changes one in an instant.  If you had a paper to write given by an English high school teacher or college professor and were asked, "Write me a paper of not less than 2000 words showing how a smile has an affect on a person?" you would find it thought provoking, but it would be
    a paper that would be fun to write.  We do need a smile everyday and the world with its tugging at each other at war and unkind acts of violence piercing us daily, don't we wish a smile would generate peace?  So - provide a smile to those you do not know, thank someone with a smile, and...smile at something funny today  There is so much to be thankful for. Reynoldsburg, OH 9/16/14


    Ivo Livansky
    Ivo Livansky

    Oh, such beautiful pics, so touching, I am happy to see them all and I am looking for tomorrow, looking at them again! Happiness!!! 

    Katherine Mathews
    Katherine Mathews

    Too beautiful the power of a smile around the world means the same.

     With the same heart benefits


    Kitty Arendse
    Kitty Arendse

    Dear Mary McGrory, want to thank you, for your wise words, that photos can transcend cultural bounderies. Words that we need to read and hear in this day and age...touching our hearts, as do these heartwarming photographs!  tulip in hand for you from holland, liefs Kitty    and a ps. keep *them* photos coming.

    Waxim Sym
    Waxim Sym

    A smile can do wonders.. :)
    Beautiful Collection.. (y)

    A. Lebajo
    A. Lebajo

    A smile ignites our soul.. Good morning everyone :-)

    ross sumera
    ross sumera

    These images made me smile :)...such a wonderful gallery

    Heide Steinkraus
    Heide Steinkraus

    Wonderful, delightful and uplifting photo's .  Thank you very much

    Mary-Jane Irwin
    Mary-Jane Irwin

    Much more of this please, the world needs this kind of hope. Beautiful shots every one. 

    Khalid Ahmed
    Khalid Ahmed

    can't control even smile yourself while watching these pic.


    Dawn Rosser
    Dawn Rosser

    Wow beautiful, evokes absolute joy, thank you!

    Marina Melnikova
    Marina Melnikova

    Can't help smiling while looked throughout the photos/ Thank you!

    Susie Combs
    Susie Combs

    All of these photos make me smile!  Today is the 4th of July and I am smiling.  :)

    Mary Kruger
    Mary Kruger

    Making my day a happy one! Thank you!

    Lise Levesque
    Lise Levesque

    Being in a Happy place in our head, that's what is all about!!!  Thank you Marie McGrory to be able to capture this special expression that the whole world understand...without saying a word!

    Sabina G.
    Sabina G.

    Incredible Pictures!!! What a wonderful assignment...to capture the joy in this world :)


    Daniel Diaz
    Daniel Diaz

    Nice work. Thanks Marie to make us happy seeing people with so diverse origin all smile.

    Let's work to make them happy. I remembered now when 100 voices recorded a song that traveled all the world in a message of solidarity. Thanks once again. 

    Linda Whiting
    Linda Whiting

    Such an inspiration makes me want to grab my camera to capture some smiles myself. Makes you feel good all over!

    Kheir Eddine Kadi
    Kheir Eddine Kadi

    あなたの兄弟の顔に笑顔は、慈善団体である

    Bozena Tansey
    Bozena Tansey

    Polskie dzieci . polski kot , polski domek , polska trawa ….. mam usmiech od ucha do ucha …. dzieki !!!

    Timothy Casey
    Timothy Casey

    TJ Casey, Sr. - Smile: to show pleasure, amusement, affection, etc.  good job Marie.

    Francisco Soares
    Francisco Soares

    Niiice! Everything we need to start a good day is a smile. 

    Donna Farrell
    Donna Farrell

    Wonderful photos! I enjoyed looking at them....it always amazes me what a camera can capture

    Nicole Kin
    Nicole Kin

    We need more assignments like these...great idea!

    Myrt Rollins
    Myrt Rollins

    The wonder and light of a smile brought one to my heart.   Thanks much,  Myrt

    monica bellegard
    monica bellegard

    ... pro dia ser + feliz 

    gracias

    thank you

    obrigada

    mercy

    dank u

    An Kruger
    An Kruger

    It was really a great story and simply fab selection - thank you!

    Jamie Schwartz
    Jamie Schwartz

    A beautiful mother's smile...from the bottom of her heart and spirit.

    Jason Wamulume
    Jason Wamulume

    Heartwarming shots from warm hearts - am sure. I believe we reflect and choose to see what we are ourselves. Awesome.

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