"Here, smile like this. Show your teeth," my mother would demonstrate accentuating her smile with a pointed finger."You do it, now," she coaxed. I practiced in the tiny hallway, just me and my mother long enough to satisfy her. We parted, each hoping for a different outcome.
While sitting at the kitchen table, she unhinged the glass protecting each portrait-the expression was the same year after year. As I stood in line waiting for the photo to be taken, I practiced smiling as my mother had shown me. Sitting on that big black box and staring into the lens made me self-conscious and nervous. I always deferred to the default 'no smile, no teeth'-my mother's disappointment.
Even today, portraits are such a difficult undertaking. Everyone is coaxing me to smile. And, I just can't. I really don't know why.