174 Reasons to Smile - a photography project about happiness

Beyond all challenges each of us face every day, life is worth celebrating because it is a gift. We can find reasons to smile everyday, we just have to look inside ourselves, says Cristian Manta. This was the starting point for a project called 174 Reasons to Smile.

We wake up in the morning and we inevitably come across trouble by night. Looking around, youll see many sad people and I think most of them forgot to smile. And so this project is meant to remind people that deep inside is where theyll find reasons why life deserves to be celebrated.

Through his camera lens, Cristian Manta captured smiles of thousands of people and confessed he doesnt seek a certain kind of beauty or social status.

In this project I try to include all sorts of people, from those who walk down the street, to the man who lives on the street and up to the public persons. The message I want to convey is that were all people who have feelings, a soul within us and thats what matters in the end.

The project 174 Reasons to Smile started in 2015. The artist captured images of Romanian people from different cities, but also beyond the countrys borders.

My goal is to do the biggest smile portrait project in Europe, therefore I travel to different cities in Romania and Europe. Ive already been to Germany, Belgium, France. The people there are much more open than Romanians. If you go and stop them on the street, theyre much more open to accepting a photo.

In 2018, he had the opportunity to collect smiles from children in the Oncology Department of the Fundeni Clinical Hospital in Bucharest who did not have many reasons for happiness.

Last year I was at the Bucharest oncology hospital. The children there had cancer, and yet they smiled.

Through this project, Cristian Manta tries to make people aware that neither material things, nor social positions can bring happiness.

A few years ago I met a dad in the town of Resita, holding a 1 year old baby in his arms, and went to ask him if he would let me take a picture of the baby. At same time, I asked him if he has reasons to smile. The man looked at me very upset, as we, Romanians, often do, and told me: I have no reason to smile. You could see the sadness in his eyes. I replied: My dear, youre just holding a reason why you should be happy!

The Bible talks about happiness, telling us God is the source of happiness. Happiness comes from above. Happiness doesnt come from earthly things, all of them wear out. When we look up to God and understand God is the source of our happiness, we understand that life is more than to have and to possess, life is about to give.

Cristian Manta says the project 174 Reasons to Smile is about people, human soul, and the need for authentic happiness.

With this project I try to remind people that beyond all that is gray around us, God has created a sky that is blue, full of color, and somehow we have to look up to that sky.

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