Chapter 1, Task 1
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Task 46 -Generosity gives results

Task 46

Generosity produces results

The Camera Cure - task 46
Per has a winning nature that makes people line up for photos for him with pleasure. He goes right up to them, smiles and directs them with a friendly firmness, and shows them interest and respect. After a short but pleasant session, he thanks them.
At the photo workshop it becomes clear that the participants who smile the most often get the best pictures. People like them and thus allow their pictures to be taken. In other ways as well, it looks as if a smile helps. You manage more easily to overcome challenges by taking pictures. In this photo you can study how the light area draws attention to itself. Hold your hand over the cream-colored area and discover how much easier it is to see the person. If Per had taken a step or two to the right then the red machine would have hidden the light and solved the problem. By the way, Per can’t see that the color red is there. He is colorblind but this does not hinder him in taking good color pictures. Often they are just a little different.
Nkob, Morocco, 2013. Photo: Per Hjortdahl


Lack of generosity

All religions place an emphasis on giving, receiving and giving thanks. The relationship between these three constitutes an eternal circle. And it seems almost innate. Life in the hunter-gatherer societies was a team effort characterized by an even distribution of goods because only a united group could be stronger than their surroundings. Egoists were warned and, if necessary, expelled from the tribe.

Giving has proven to produce more well-being than receiving. If you are perceived to be a miser and hold on tightly to your things and not show generosity, then you make it difficult for yourself. However, if you help others get what they want then you increase your chances for also getting what you want. This message is central to The Camera Cure®.

In addition, we must allow ourselves to receive. This is a form of generosity as well. We get just as happy from giving as receiving. In doing so, we make others happy by receiving some- thing from them. The external symptom of generosity is smiling. Those who smile express a surplus of energy and they share it with others. People who don’t smile express a deficiency and thus less to share. One of the clearest signs a patient can show in regard to their state of health, and their future risk of illness, is their smile. I meet many patients who rarely smile and quickly I realize that they can be difficult to like for those around them. They certainly have their reasons not to smile but their bitter expression aggravates the situation more than is necessary. Over the years the corners of their mouths are set downwards and can ensure that they have a chronically joyless expression on their faces.

The smile has big consequences for how you are liked. As an emergency ward doctor it is important to smile. The better I am liked the greater chance there is that the patients will listen to me and the less chance that they will complain if I make a mistake. I had to acquire this knowledge on my own because medical school didn’t exactly offer courses in smiling. The arrogance and self-importance of the professors could readily infect the students.

How we feel affects our body language. That is a given. However, body language also affects how we feel. If you stoop over you are going to feel more powerless. And if you smile you will feel happier. We read body language instantaneously and the first impression we get can easily be fixed in our minds.

As a photographer you will experience how generosity, a smile and inviting body language leads to better pictures. Use your camera to practice this.

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Give to receive

I am not a naural smiler, or markedly generous. This could probably be due to being modest. However, it could perhaps also be due to me being selfish. I thought life was all about accumu- lating things for myself, being serious and holding my cards close to my chest. Therefore, I was very happy when I learned that the key to achieving something was to show generosity and kindness. It is much nicer to be able to be gentle and generous than to be the opposite.

One thing that is clear to me after having arranged many photo workshops is that those who smile the most often and give genuine attention to others get the best pictures. At a workshop we often emphasize that you have to get people to like you, that, in fact, you are what you give. Giving a smile is your shortcut to success.

When we are abroad and taking photos, we can easily give our subject the feeling that we are taking something from them. Therefore, we have to be extremely committed to giving. Often I have a Polaroid camera with me or a portable printer. This gives me the opportunity to give something tangible back while at the same time this breaks the ice between us. Give them your full, positive attention and they will feel important and cooperate with you. In return you get to meet someone, receive a lot of joy and maybe get some good pictures.

Inviting body language is important. An upright posture, raised eyebrows, a pleasant smile and alert gaze gives the signal that you have a surplus of energy and attention to share. This increases your likeability and chances for success. A somber, negative body language and an absence of a smile has the opposite effect. Good composition skills are to no avail if your posture betrays you.


Photograph a smile. Maybe do your own, or others, or objects that have a shape that reminds you of a smile. Take a portrait of a generous person that you know. Your full attention is a gift to both of you.

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BOOK SUGGESTION: The Age of Generosity by Kathrine Aspaas

To receive everything, one must open one’s hands and give.

Taisen Deshimaru

A smile is the shortest distance between two people.

Victor Borge

When you see a person without a smile, give him one of yours.

Zig Zigla

You can always give something, even if it is just kindness.

Anne Frank