Smiling is a global way to express emotion. It has become a widely-known sign throughout the years. But Réhahn sees past muscle-tensing. He focuses on the details that give an importance to the smile; the wrinkles around the eyelids are the traces of life left as an imprint on their body. Despite the poverty or the age, the pictures reveal the life within the age; all leading to the never-changing eyes, showing us their way of life, of thought, their real hidden smile.
The final project is to exhibit 100 Hidden Smiles before the end of the year 2016.
WHAT IS THE HIDDEN SMILE PROJECT ?
Hidden smile is a project aims to collect at least 100 photos of Vietnamese people hiding their smiles. This facet has never been addressed before and concerns mainly Vietnamese women who, for the reason of modesty, politeness or discomfort, use their hands to cover their mouth when they laugh.
IS IT NATURAL ? DID YOU SEE THAT SOMEWHERE ELSE IN ASIA ?
It is completely natural and is noticeable throughout Asian countries, but this gesture remains more common in Vietnam. Young girls will smile and put their hand over their mouth when they receive a compliment while the elderly, will do so out of politeness or modesty.
ON AN ARTISTIC VIEWPOINT ?
This creates a beautiful portrait . The hands of the elderly tell stories like her eyes. Wrinkles show aging and sometimes hard life but their eyes express a different thing, good humor and joy of life. Some say the eyes are the reflection of the soul, I think a good photographer conveys an emotion without needing a title .
WHAT ABOUT THE BOOK COVER ?
This photo was taken in 2011, and not part of this project. In fact, at the time I did notice this particular trait amongst Vietnamese people. I was searching for a cover photo for my book and I thought that the photo represented Vietnam well. The joy of life despite aging and poverty!
This lady naturally put her hand over her mouth when I complemented her. Without much thought, I aked her if she could put a her other hand as to create a natural frame for her beautiful eyes.
Bui Thi Xong works on her boat everyday, taking tourists around for 50,000 vnd for half an hour / person. She is 78 years old and loves her job. She believes that she will work for the rest of her life because that’s what she loves doing.
READ MORE: BEHIND THE HIDDEN SMILE