+
upworthy
Joy

Photographer doesn't force young girls to smile in photos and the results are powerful

“Allow girls to show up, take up space and not smile if they don’t want to.”

girls posing for photo
two girls in shirts posing for photo

The expectation to put on an air of happy, fun, pleasant nonconfrontation through baring teeth, otherwise known as smiling, is something many, if not most, women know very well. What’s more, this pressure is often introduced to women at a very early age.

And obviously, while there’s nothing inherently wrong with naturally being a happy, smiling person, issues arise when kids are taught that being themselves, just as they are, isn’t acceptable.

That’s why people are so impressed with North Carolina-based photographer Brooke Light’s (@bdlighted on TikTok) hands-off approach when it comes to taking pictures of young girls.

Her philosophy is simple, but oh so poignant: Allow girls to show up, take up space, and perhaps most importantly, not smile if they don’t want to.


Light posted a video showing some of her recent portraits, and truly, the work speaks for itself. Each of the girls’ distinct, unique personalities shine in these black-and-white images. Plus the lighting is moody and artsy and cool as hell. So much better than a forced, cheesy, smiling pic.

Take a look:

@bdlighted never underestimate the power of a photoshoot for your kids confidence #moodymini #kidsphotographer #childrensphotography #portraitphotographer #confidenceboost #kidsconfidence #familyphotoshootideas #familyphotoshoots #studiophotography #blackandwhitephoto #girlpower #girlempowerment #donttellmetosmile #momsofgirls #girlmom #greenscreen ♬ Little Girl Gone - CHINCHILLA

Comments began flooding in commending Light for how she authentically portrayed the girls as individuals, rather than producing cookie-cutter images of them.

“I love how they are not trying to be anything ‘extra’ just their own raw and savage selves,” one person wrote.

Another added, “I can feel their power through my phone.”

Light redirected the praise toward her clients, saying, “They are even more amazing in person! Like that vibe you feel is ALL THEM. I’m just there capturing it.”

For many women who had their own memories of being told to smile for photos, seeing the images had a profound effect.

“CHILLS! This healed something in me. Thank you.” one person commented.

“The Sears family photo trauma was REAL” wrote another.

And for the record, Light doesn’t make boys smile either. Here’s the proof in her follow-up video:

@bdlighted these mom's got me blushing in my DMs 🫣📸 I've never had my creativity or my photography validated so much in my life. thank you for the outpouring of love on these photos this week. it's meant more than you can ever know. #boymom #boymoms #moodymini #familyphotoshoots #familyphotoshootideas #portraitphotographer#studiophotography#kidsphotographer#kidsconfidence #childrensphotography #greenscreen ♬ Area Codes - Kali

In the post, Light shared how touched she was by the overwhelmingly positive response.

“I’ve never had my creativity or my photography validated so much in my life. Thank you for the outpouring of love on these photos this week. It’s meant more than you can ever know,” she wrote.

Imagine that…celebrating others for their authentic selves, then being celebrated yourself. Now that’s something worth smiling for.


This article originally appeared on 6.2.23

This could be the guest house.


Inequality has gotten worse than you think.

An investigation by former "Daily Show" correspondent Hasan Minhaj is still perfectly apt and shows that the problem isn't just your classic case of "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."

Keep ReadingShow less
via Wikimedia Commons

Craig Ferguson was the host of "The Late Late Show" on CBS from 2005 to 2014. He's probably best remembered for his stream-of-conscious, mostly improvised monologues that often veered from funny observations to more serious territory.

In 2009, he opened his show explaining how marketers have spent six decades persuading the public into believing that youth should be deified. To Ferguson, it's the big reason "Why everything sucks."

Keep ReadingShow less

Gen Xer shares some timeless advice for Gen Z.

Meghan Smith is the owner of Melody Note Vintage store in the eternally hip town of Palm Springs, California, and her old-school Gen X advice has really connected with younger people on TikTok.

In a video posted in December 2022, she shares the advice she wishes that “somebody told me in my twenties” and it has received more than 13 million views. Smith says that she gave the same advice to her partner's two daughters when they reached their twenties.

The video is hashtagged #GenX advice for #GenZ and late #millennials. Sorry older millennials, you’re too old to receive these pearls of wisdom.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

A brave fan asks Patrick Stewart a question he doesn't usually get and is given a beautiful answer

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through.

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through. However, how he answered this vulnerable and brave fan's question is one of the most eloquent, passionate responses about domestic violence I've ever seen.

Keep ReadingShow less

The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn't have to be.

People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women's rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

Then there are those of us in the messy middle. Those who believe that life begins at conception, that abortion isn't something we'd choose—and we'd hope others wouldn't choose—under most circumstances, yet who choose to vote to keep abortion legal.

Keep ReadingShow less

One of these things is not like the other.

For fantasy fans, it truly is the best of times, and the worst of times. On the bright side—there’s more magic wielding, dragon riding, caped crusading content than ever before. Yay to that.

On the other hand, have you noticed that with all these shows, something feels … off?

No, that’s not just adulthood stripping you of childlike wonder. There is a subtle, yet undeniable decline in how these shows are being made, and your eyes are picking up on it. Nolan Yost, a freelance wigmaker living in New York City, explains the shift in his now viral Facebook post.

The post, which has been shared nearly 3,500 times, attributes shows being “mid,” (aka mediocre, or my favorite—meh) mostly to the new streaming-based studio system, which quite literally prioritizes quantity over quality, pumping out new content as fast as possible to snag a huge fan base.

The result? A “Shein era of mass media,” Yost says, adding that “the toll it takes on costuming and hair/makeup has made almost every new release from Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu have a B-movie visual quality.”

He even had some pictures to prove it.

Keep ReadingShow less