Life
23 Photos That Will Change The Way You Look At Strangers
Smile
Published: Aug 2, 2016

We’ve always been told to never talk to strangers because a stranger is unknown, and it’s often the unknown that scares us. Meet Jay Weinstein, a Mumbai-based, Hindi-speaking photographer of Australian-American-Ukrainian-English heritage, who is wants to change the way you look at strangers.

Source: Lorin Fogel
Source: Lorin Fogel

Weinstein is the man behind the inspirational photo series So I Asked Them to Smilea minimalist photography project exploring the smile of strangers.

He shares his inspiration of the project on his Facebook page:

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 face 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.

So I asked them to smile is a gallery of strangers, each of which are shown with and without a smile. Here’s a collection of some of the best photos from the project:

1. Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

2. Hampi, Karnataka

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

3. Juhu, Mumbai

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

4. Tyrna Village, Meghalaya

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

5. Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

6. Khonoma, Nagaland

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

7. Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

8. Jagannath Puri, Odisha

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

9. Latikynsew Village, Meghalaya

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

10. Bagru Village, Rajastan

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

11. Bandra, Mumbai

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

12. Juhu Beach, Mumbai

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

13. Danda Village Jetty, Mumbai

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

14. Kakhsar Village, Gujarat

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

15. Outside St Xavier College, Mumbai

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

16. Rar Village, Uttar Pradesh

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

17. Juhu Beach, Mumbai

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

18. Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

19. Kohima, Nagaland

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

20. Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

21. Tyrna Village, Meghalaya

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

22. Barsana, Uttar Pradesh

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

23. Pune Maharashtra, India

Photo: Jay Weinstein
Photo: Jay Weinstein

:)