One thing that cracks me up with most of the adults in my family and some of the other adults I photographed in Nigeria is their inability to smile in pictures. I kid you not: the minute the camera comes out, they put on a look that screams “my dog just died” or “NEPA will not be returning light for the next 365 days”. Yes, they look that sad. The worst part is before the picture they can be laughing or smiling and generally having a good time but all of that disappears when the camera comes out. (And before you say it, they wanted to be photographed, or so they told me. I was often asked to get my camera, as opposed to whipping it out and forcing people to pose.)
Want some proof? Here are some pictures from my grandmother’s birthday celebration. The words “birthday” and “celebration” usually conjure up images of smiling, happy people, don’t they? Well have a look:
Not even one person cracked a smile! Even my grandma sef looked like she’d rather be anywhere than there. And when they were spraying her, she had the same expression on her face, see?
In contrast, the kids enjoyed smiling:
But all is not lost: if you’re sneaky, you can catch the adults smiling too: