arrow-downarrow-leftarrow-rightarrow-upchevron-upchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-upclosecomment-newemail-newgallerygridheadphones-newheart-filledheart-openmap-geolocatormap-pushpinArtboard 1Artboard 1Artboard 1minusng-borderpauseplayplusreplayscreenArtboard 1sharefacebookgithubArtboard 1Artboard 1linkedinlinkedin_inpinterestpinterest_psnapchatsnapchat_2tumblrtwittervimeovinewhatsappspeakerstar-filledstar-openzoom-in-newzoom-out-new

The Power of a Smile

This assignment ran from May 5 to May 26, 2014.

A smile is a powerful thing. It can change your mood, your feelings, even your actions. Across our world – from Mexico City to Manila, and from London to Los Angeles – we experience many types of smiles in our lifetimes. No matter where you are from or where you are traveling to, the universal language of a smile can take you a long way.

There are smiles of all sorts. The eager smile of a new friend, the teary-eye smile, the smile that makes a difference, the giggle that erupts into roaring laughter, and the ear-to-ear grin of a child as they tilt up their chin and say “cheese.” More

Curated by:

Marie McGrory
Producer, Nat Geo Travel
Assignment Status
  • Open

    Everyone’s welcome to contribute their best shot to open assignments. Learn more.
  • Closed

    Completed assignments—with our favorite photos included—will be published online. Learn more.
  • Published

    Once the submission period is over, we'll review all contributions and select our favorite images to be included in the story. Learn more.
Published Jun 15, 2014.
Thank you for your contributions!

Brain, Eye and Heart

Posted may 22, 2014

A few days left and you have already shared over 11,000 smiles with me—from bubbles and birthday cakes to hugs and hand-holding. It has been a delightful few weeks. While I am not complaining about the pure joy I see in these images, there are a few more quiet images that really stand out too. Last week I saw a photograph of the smile and tears of joy of a man whose sister came home from duty, a reunion two years in the making. This is a moment with an emphasis on power, rather than smile.

I do not mean to discourage pure silliness and fun, but for the sake of variety, I would love to see something deeper as well. An honest moment, one that really strikes a cord.

When moments are emotional or personal it can be difficult to edit your own work. Look through some submissions and ask yourself what makes your image different? What will make it stand out?

I was recently reminded of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s words. A photo story is “a joint operation of the brain, the eye, and the heart.” With your images, try to show all three. The brain is the camera technique, the eye is the angle and composition, and the heart is the emotion.

Best of luck in these next few days! Thank you for all of the grins and giggles your submissions have brought me. 

See the Scene

Posted may 12, 2014

I must start off by saying that this week my spirits have been lifted higher each day. As I sift through the images in this assignment I feel myself begin to smile and even laugh out loud (I hope my coworkers are getting used to it). I feel lucky, excited, and scared to have to narrow this very sweet and personal set of images down to just a handful.

I have looked at thousands of images this past week and my greatest tip right now is quite simple: show me a scene.

I have seen many beautiful smiles but often they look cropped in tight, sometimes in a sloppy composition. The smile does not need to take up the entire frame. It doesn’t need to be the focus. Some of my favorite images so far are those that show me where this person is and what they are seeing or doing that is making them laugh or smile. The person that holds the door open for a big family, the laughter of a child on a swing, the sweet moment between a couple in the park.

Finding these images can be tricky; images that are very personal to us tend to be the hardest to edit.

The best way to capture a fleeting moment that makes you smile is by always having your camera by your side. Take your camera with you for the next few days and hunt for those moments that make your endorphins spike!

It's Contagious

Posted may 5, 2014

With this in mind, for this assignment I want to feel the smile. Avoid the polite, posed, studio smile. I want to feel the laughter, I want to see the incredible things and people that make you smile each day, or the fleeting moments that make the sides of your mouth curl upwards ever so slightly.

The simple act of smiling can lead to feelings of happiness. Smiling is contagious- so go spread it around and let’s see what happens.

Please remember that you can only upload three photos to the assignment - once you have submitted three you cannot delete one to add another, so choose wisely! This assignment will be closing on May 26at 5 p.m. EST.

Marie McGrory

Marie McGrory

Producer, Nat Geo Travel
Marie McGrory is a Producer with National Geographic Travel. She believes photography can help us find the moments, feelings, and stories that transcend cultural boundaries.