Looking back, it seemed only logical to solicit smiles from children.
At the time however, making portraits of children in difficult circumstances meant to me making portraits of children without smiles. It seemed the way of the world to me, to someone privileged with opportunities beyond the scope of these children.
Time and time again however, these children would prove to me otherwise. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of smiles later, it seems natural to smile as well as to frown.
So she stands before us above, with a smile for the sake of a smile.
Many people will ask: What is so special about a child's smile?
Some facts come to mind.
'According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) there is an estimated 165 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 whom are actively involved in child labor.'
'In India the federal police say that around 1.2 million children are believed to be involved in prostitution. A CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation ) statement said that studies and surveys sponsored by the ministry of women and child development estimated that about 40% of all India's prostitutes are children.'
'Nearly half of Asia's 1.3 billion children live in poverty, denied basic needs. India has the largest number of poor children in Asia, with 80% of its 400m young severely deprived.'
Regardless of circumstances,whether the child lives a privileged life or serves families with privileged lives, all children face danger, hardship and the cruelties of the world.
A smile is the first sign of hope.