For those who have earned the ultimate rank

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"Remember to Smile" ... and Why Not to Say This!

Remembers to Smile ... and why not to say this.Your first reaction as your Eagle Scouts head off to the camera room to have his portrait made will be, "Remember to smile," or some comment about smiling like this. Please, don't do it. There are two reasons to avoid this reaction. The first is that while having your portrait made is for some people very stressful, admonishing your Scout to remember one more thing he must do during this session just makes it more stressful for him. Consequently, the probability of getting a great portrait goes down as he is sitting there trying to remember what he is supposed to do, especially when sometimes receiving contradictory requests from the photographer.

The second reason it that for most people, their best looking portraits are made when they are NOT smiling. Look at the example to the right. These are both good portraits of this Scout. His parents liked them both enough to order prints of both of these poses. However, what you see happening here is what happens to the vast majority of humans. We we smile our eyes squint down, our nostels flair, and our cheeks puff up. You can easily look 15 to 20 pounds heavier in a photo where you are smiling than in one where you are not smiling. Please remember, this doesn't make smiling or not smiling in and of itself good or bad, just different expressions with different effects.

Additionally, we are all at the mercy of the muscles in our faces. The muscles around the mouth are pretty strong. You can easily hold the smile around your mouth for several minutes. However, the muscles around the eyes are actually pretty week. Eyes do smile, but you can hold the smile in your eyes for only a few seconds. Consequently, if your Scout is working to hold that smile at his mouth because your requested that of him but the muscles around his eyes gave out long ago, those shots always look fake. Looking at it later you will not like it, you just won't realize why you don't like it.

Consequently, when I make portraits of new Eagle Scouts, I'll shoot a series of shots with different experessions. Some people look better with smiles. Some look better with serious expressions. Some look better with half-smiles. I'll take them all and the we can pick that one you like the best. Also, this way your Scout will be most relaxed and look the most like you know him to look.