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Really, Why Do We Say “Cheese” When Taking Pictures?





Back then, people didn’t have Instagram filters and powerful digital cameras to ensure that they look great in photos. They just run their fingers through their hair, adjust their clothes, and hope for the best when the camera flashes.

Oh, and they also say “cheese” before the shutter clicks. Haven’t you ever wondered why photographers say “Say cheese” when they take photographs and why people actually follow it?

Why do we use the name of a favorite dairy to look nice in photos?


The idea started around the 1940s, according to TodayIFoundOut. A local Texas newspaper called the Big Spring Herald came out with an article that referenced to the phrase. The word “cheese” obliges to smile – the “ch” sound makes you clench your teeth while the “ee” parts your lips, resulting to a grin on your face.

Here’s an interesting tidbit: Back in the day, as in during the 19th century, not everyone smiles in photographs. Only drunks, peasants, and children ever flash their pearly whites for the camera.

Everyone else maintains a poker face for pictures as it was considered dignified and attractive.

Also, cameras weren’t exactly instant back then. It took several hours, even days, to take a single photograph!

Taking photographs was a major effort back then.

No one could hold a smile for that long. Consider too that dental hygiene wasn’t a priority during that time so, of course, people aren’t exactly raring to show off their broken or missing teeth.

During the old times, creating photographs was very expensive, so much that the average person sits through photos just one or two times in their entire lifetime. So they pretty much do this on very important occasions.

We have Kodak to thank for making photos more accessible – the company invented the $1 “Brownie” camera in the 1900s.

We also have Hollywood to thank as they captured moments for film. These makes smiling a common practice for all types of people.

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