I have always felt a special motivation to share my vision of the world through photography, capturing the essence of the moment in a shot and painting with light, different episodes of my life, that's the reason why today I want to share my story...
My name is Roberto Antonio Corona Contreras and from this moment, I open my heart and leave my fears behind to bare my soul and express my feelings freely.
I live my day to day life with a positive attitude, the smile I have on my face is notorious, I look spontaneously into people’s eyes when talking to them, maybe because I feel the need to connect with every new person I find on my path, enriching my spirit with a smile, opening my heart to the world to share the happiness and the love that feeds my being, it gives my life a purpose...
Over a year ago I started a wonderful trip, with the initial aim of portraying anonymous people on my way to represent the ethnic diversity and cultural richness of the 5 continents, besides sharing a brief story behind each photo, starting with the question... What is the reason for your smile?
After hundreds of portraits, in gratitude I discovered the key to happiness and I could understand my true purpose in life... share a message of hope through the smiles that I collect on my travel route. Each portrait a story, each story a new reason to be happy... a message that helps us understand life as a gift and find the essence of our being, the real source of wealth... love, happiness and peace within us all, and that all it needs to grow and strengthen, is to be shared.
We are all capable of giving a smile, even the most humble person on this earth can share a smile and enrich their soul.
In 2004 I started a small business in the field of photography and audiovisual production in Iquique, northern Chile, I thought it was successful, because I undertook a lot of responsibilities and major projects, my company had consolidated and the team grew rapidly, I did not realize in that moment I lost control of my life. I was so involved in my work that I did not allow time for my family, my friends, or even for myself... Then in March 2012, I was a victim of a big robbery that ended in a night with over 8 years of hard work and sacrifice, however, this was a lesson of strength and that allowed me to open my eyes at life and reassess the essential ...
When I had thought I had lost everything, at the end of my office I found a single camera that was forgotten, that was the sign that made me think; "This is more than what I had when I first started and I still love what I do... so I can start again" Despite all the material I had lost, I recovered something more valuable... my time. So I started from scratch and it gave me the freedom from anything that tied me down and would not let me chase my dreams. I always wanted to discover the world but never had the time to do it, now is that time.
For a long time I wondered, where to find happiness and decided to start a long journey to find out, thinking maybe someone would have the answer ...
Since 2008 I have been an active member of Couchsurfing, a community of cultural exchange that lets you connect with friends across 5 continents, I have received in my home over 200 Travelers who inspired me to believe in my dreams.
So after my life crashed, I had the opportunity to buy a half price ticket to fly to New York and with very little money, I started this journey of personal discovery, never lacked a place where to stay or to find a new friend, I realized I had a home in every corner of the world... this time I was the guest. I felt like I was reborn, I fall in love with life again... I recovered my sense of wonder, I felt like a kid again, my life was back on course.
Having been living for almost three months in New York, when I was just a couple of weeks from my trip back to Chile, I thought about all the good things that I had lived during this time, it seemed like a dream in which I didn't want to wake up ... I didn't want to come back to reality, at least not the reality I had left behind ... I felt lost in the middle of Time Square, walking aimlessly around the big Apple, I realized as the accelerated pace of life, not allowed me to connect with people, I was invisible, I could disappear at that moment and no one would notice, I thought my life did not matter, that I was worthless... but I was wrong, there was a person who noticed my presence at that momente and he asked me:
Where do you come from?
I'm from Chile (I replied thinking I have found a new friend ...)
And I saw a big smile that lit his face and exclaimed enthusiastically:
Chile! ... Wow, do you have a coin? (he asked me back really interested and I was a little confused thinking he needed money I answered...)
Sorry, I have no money.
Then he explained that he collect coins and Chile was one of the country he lacked in his coin collection ...
It was at that moment that I looked around and I realized we were in a lively place with people from all over the world, one of the most cosmopolitan cities of our planet. Then I thought ... I want to start my own collection!
A revelation came to my mind and wrote on a white cardboard the legend: "Collecting Smiles", and suddenly the accelerated pace of life in New York stopped for a second... To give me a smile.
I asked hundreds of people in my way, what is the reason for their smile, what is the reason for their happiness... Then I realized that no matter the circumstances of your environment, the traditions of your culture, the color of your skin or the language that you speak, a smile connects us, unites us and becomes the universal language...
That was how my collection of smiles began, every smile was a new reason to carry on with this project, and find my way, discovering that the key to happiness is gratitude, gratitude begins with a smile and when we are able to live day to day with a positive attitude, we will find in our being, an infinite source of love, peace and happiness, which grows each time we share it ...
This message must be heard, help us to spread this project to inspire others to appreciate life as a gift and find in gratitude the key to happiness :)
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