Say cheese

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Say cheese is a signal to the subject of a photograph to smile. The person taking the photograph utters “say cheese” at the moment right before he takes the photograph. Speaking the word cheese causes the lips to naturally draw back to expose the teeth. The first photographer who used this technique to encourage his subjects to smile is unknown, though there are some who believe it was a politician who originated the trick. The idea of saying cheese when photographed first appeared in print in the 1940s. Photographers who speak other languages employ a similar technique. For instance, in France the word used to encourage a smile when being photographed is ouistiti which translates as marmoset, in Bulgaria the word used is zele, which means cabbage. Related phrases are says cheese, said cheese, saying cheese.


Say cheese! Sheridan Smith rocks glam hair and makeup as she happily poses for selfies after another night treading the boards in Funny Girl (The Daily Mail)

John Haltiwanger wrote: “This man is so fast he has enough time to stop and say cheese for the cameras before crossing the finishing line.” (The Daily Express)

Say cheese! Virginians can now smile in their driver’s license photos. (The Washington Post)

Say cheese! Batavia police seek man suspected of robbing photo booth (The Kane County Chronicle)

Say cheese: Britain’s Prince George debuts on postage stamp (The Hindustan Times)

Say cheese: Rules of thumb for online dating photos (The Providence Journal)

Say cheese! Rat climbs on sleeping man, takes selfie (The Times of India)

Say cheese for science: Camera traps show how habitat protection aids biodiversity (The Los Angeles Times)

Say Cheese! Royals Pose for Family Photo with Princess Charlotte (TIME Magazine)

A fan from Wisconsin who worked in a cheese processing facility told Rodgers she didn’t like the tradition of “saying cheese” for photos. (The Sacramento Bee)