When I was assisting a photo shoot at my daughter’s school, some parents struggled to get their kids to smile, and I wondered what the point is of forcing smiles out of them. Why wouldn’t they want photos of their kids that capture how they are truly feeling?
The reason why most portrait photos are of the subjects smiling and looking directly at the camera is because it allows the viewers to pretend that the subjects are smiling at them. That is, they are interested in what they want to see in the subjects, instead of what they actually are. This is also the primary difference between pornography and artistic nude photos.