Why photograph smiles when there are so many other options?
This is a great question. I have always been a very happy person and believe smiling and sharing smiles around is among the healthiest things we can do! It makes us all feel good! I feel responsible to each person whose smile I’ve had the privilege to capture. To share their photos with the world is my way of building peace!
What made you decide to share your story with the world?
I believe in peace and know for a fact that we all can live in peace. All our children deserve to grow up in a world at peace, and it’s our collective responsibility as human beings to work towards this end. Being a mum has also strengthened this yearning in me!
Your photographs are spectacular; every person is beautiful and each holds a unique story—what’s your favourite story?
Bless you so much for your kind words! The world is so beautiful, and photography is a way of life for me. I was so young when I began taking photos! Photographing my baby sisters, who are twins, with their schoolmates in Bhutan may perhaps be among my best experiences. It was so much fun and brought me back to my own school days in Chile, Brazil and Malaysia. It made me feel so fortunate for having this sine-qua-non learning opportunity!
In your book, you wrote: ‘Peace happens when there is no “other,” no “us” and “them.” Peace happens when we know everyone is connected to us and all are our brothers and sisters.’ Please share your thoughts on this.
Thank you for quoting this so very important theme of my book—what my book is all about! Very often people live in other countries yet live entirely apart from the people of those countries and feel different from them. My life-long, non-threatening existence among so many peoples of so many different cultures, who treated me with love and friendship no matter where I was in the world, is the proof of this. My conclusions are based on pure and simple truth. Peace happens when we know everyone is connected to us—when we can all be brothers and sisters, when there is no separation, no ‘us and them’ mentality. This is a simple yet powerful formula that would transform wars to something of the past!
Are there any difficulties you have faced in photographing people and/or their smiles?
There haven’t been any difficulties, to be honest. I have always had a strong connection to people and am a very happy person. Everything depends on how you approach people, and if you smile genuinely, they will smile back just as genuinely!
This book is unlike any other. What do you hope to achieve with it?
Thank you for your comment! Peace is the absence of mistrust and aggression—a feeling that is definitely at our reach no matter what cynics claim. In reality, it’s only those who have something to gain from keeping us apart who try to contradict this simple truth! Inner peace is essential for true peace to be possible—a state of existence and co-existence where no one feels threatened by anyone else! I want to make each and every person who sees my photos and reads my words reach inner peace!
By Ellie Griffiths