Something I really appreciated about Jack Jonathan’s photographic exhibition, Egypt, The Eternal Spirit of Its People, was his deliberate focus on happy shots of the people around Cairo in 1952.
His and Steve Barr’s choice of duotone to print the black and white images, enhanced the warmth and cheerfulness, and truly represented the “eternal spirit” of Egypt’s warm, welcoming, courteous people. You look at the smiling faces of hard- working men and women, and curious children, and you smile back.
Walking into the exhibition in Sarasota was a joyful experience. Even in our office, these duotones, and Jack’s coloured prints create a warm and cheerful atmosphere that makes you want to stay awhile. Visitors leave feeling happy.
If photographs of people smiling can bring joy, the feeling is enhanced when you smile at the friends and strangers you meet in your daily life: the bus driver, the person at the Information desk in an office, the waitress, colleagues.
Who have you greeted with a smile today?
My husband was a very active, engaging man with diverse interests. He loved people and would greet whomever he met with a warm handshake and an open, welcoming smile. In the last year of his life, however, sitting in a wheelchair, hard of hearing, in constant pain, he could no longer engage with his projects, hobbies and friends.
I hit upon a plan to cheer him up. Every morning I would load him, my one-year old granddaughter, and his wheelchair into the car and head out to his favourite store, Consentino’s, our local supermarket. I said, “These people will have been on their feet from 6:30 am. They are tired. Your job is to smile your million-watt smile, and cheer them up.” He was unconvinced. However, as I wheeled him into the store with my adorable granddaughter on his knee, people leaned over to smile or admire the two of them. As we made our way around the store people wanting to chat, stopped us. At the checkout counter Ernest smiled his wonderful smile and people beamed back at him. Their eyes followed us as we walked out.
This joy did not last the whole day. But it gave my husband a taste for one of his
greatest gifts – the gift of a smile that brought joy to others. The unintended consequence
was that for a while, he felt less pain.
Who brightened your day with a smile today?