Who are you if you
do not smile?

Smiling is beautiful, an expression of happiness and affection.

But why do women always need to look happy anyway?

Telling a woman to smile happens, mostly for two reasons:

caring or controlling

While the first might be well-intended, neither will probably be well-received. On the other hand, a lot of men view smiling as subservient, weak and vulnerable. So, telling a woman to smile might be pushing her back into a traditional stereotype. In our society we are so used to women smiling at us from every advertisement that it is almost disturbing when this is not the case.

Behind every woman is so much more than the smile we all expect. Let’s make that visible.



Who are we?

We are, from right to left, Carolin Stiehle, Janna Raphaela and David Hoepfner.

Caro is a Changemaker, Project Manager and Expert for Women Empowerment. She connects people and empowers them, to create a sustainable world.

Janna is a psychologist and has enjoyed a variety of other education in addition to this degree. She runs her own practice just outside Munich.

David is a photographer and has been working freelance for several years. Besides the daily business he realizes projects that are close to his heart.

The basic idea for DO NOT SMILE. comes from David’s head. In his way, he always has the task to show people, and here especially women, smiling, winning and friendly. Here there is a disproportion to the image of what is required of men.

This is not only a social and societal injustice, but also ensures a focus on smiling and a non-existence of other feelings in our daily perception.

From this emerged the idea to photograph portraits on which woman may show everything and every feeling, every expression is welcome, except for, this one time, a smile.

When Janna and David met and started talking about it, the project took off and the ideas became clearer and more tangible. Carolin’s entry into the project was then only a logical conclusion.

Right now we are planning shootings in other cities in Germany and developing the concept for a book and the planned exhibition.

Join US!

If you are interested in becoming part of the project, please contact us at



We will let you know the dates for the next shootings as soon as they are planned. You have to plan about one hour of your time. You will receive all further information by email and you are also welcome to ask any further questions in advance.