Say Cheese?

My youngest has a little camera and is walking around saying, "Say cheese!", and it made me think, why? If someone didn't understand the reasoning behind this request, it would seem quite odd.

The purpose is to make the subject, assuming they speak English and are able to speak, make the "E" sound, and thus turning their mouth into shape resembling a smile.

I have a few other words I use to get clients to make this face. They are, in no particular order:

  1. Mommy
  2. Daddy
  3. Cookie
  4. Puppy
  5. Kitty
  6. Poopy
  7. Papaya
Number 6 is a popular one among little boys. Number 7 makes adults smile just because it is unexpected. 

So, the desired effect is a smile, but unfortunately it can also result in what my family calls the "Chicken Run" face.

I have learned that "cheese" doesn't translate well in Spanish, but the result is humorous enough to get Hispanic clients to crack a smile. "Say queso!"

I recently did what could be called "marathon" portrait sessions at a church nativity event, where families were lined up for a free photo with a pretty backdrop.

I had to get complete strangers to quickly pose and smile for a photo, which means I had to create an instant rapport. I can say it takes a very specific set of skills which have been developed over the years to successfully take photos in this manner of individuals with a variety of personalities.

It takes a lot of energy for me to step into the role of confident, extroverted professional photographer. It is just a facet of multi-dimensional me. :-)

Anyway, back to cheese. Where did this begin? Why cheese and not peas? What do photographers in other countries say to get their clients to pull a smile? Probably not queso.

Photo credit - PetaPixelRotten TomatoesBright Photography

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