Display Outdoor Success With A Smile

Okay, I’ve got this pet peeve and it’s time I finally get it off my chest.   It involves sportsmen shown in pictures holding a nice stringer of fish or perhaps kneeling aside a recently shot deer.

Everything can be technically correct about the picture — proper exposure, sharp focus, nice close-up shot with an uncluttered background.   Yet, far too often something important is still missing from the image.   Something as simple as a smile not shown displayed on the sportsman’s face.

Seriously, if a successful hunter who just shot a morning’s limit of ducks can’t muster a smile on their face during pictures…well, I ask then why should I get excited about the achievement or their moment of glory.   Now, mind you, I’m not looking for some phony smile displaying all the chicklets, in fact, in most cases even a slight grin is better than nothing.

The point is I see too many sportsmen posing for pictures with a stoic, unappealing facial expression that is not indicative of what they just accomplished.   Show a bit of excitement.   Express some enthusiasm.   In many cases, that picture is the only connection a sportsman will have to sharing the moment with their friends and family for decades to come.

To me what’s particularly aggravating is those “best deer” or “best fish” photo contests where some entrants try to look so serious they almost appear with a scowl.   C’mon…that’s just silly.   If I ran the contest the lack of a discernible smile would serve as a disqualifying criterion, in most cases.

So, why is a smile that important?   It’s all about body language or what some experts call “nonverbal” communication.   The human smile has a powerful effect on other humans.   People react to smiles and in most instances in a very positive way.   A genuine smile conveys a message that is more believable and eloquent than even the spoken word.   We do want our important outdoor pictures to speak to the viewer, don’t we?FirstFish

Displaying a smile is such a simple, yet often overlooked element of a good outdoor picture.   When I view pictures showing sportsmen with their game or fish I want to feel as though I am sharing in the moment as captured visually.   When I see somber faces, my first impression is this photo was simply staged hours “after the fact” when the natural excitement and glow from the moment has obviously diminished.

This fall, whether you’re the person either behind or in front of the camera…start making a conscious effort to get more smiles on the faces of sportsmen included in those all-important game/fish harvested photos.

Perhaps it seems like an inconsequential element in our images, but I contend showing a smile also portrays a certain pride in what we do as outdoorsmen.   Besides, it gives me more time to focus my attention on other outdoor pet peeves — such as deploring road signs riddled with bullet holes and dealing with apathetic people who trespass.

© 2009 Jim Braaten.   All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.