‘Say Cheese’ – the meaning behind the phrase

How many of you have stood in front of a camera and said ‘CHEESE’? Ever wondered why we do this? 

No-one knows who or when we started using this phrase in photography, but the earliest reference seems to be in the 1940s. Prior to this, up until the early 1900s, victorians did not smile in photographs. Interestingly though, it is thought that they might have said ‘prunes’ to create the desired look for the era. A small mouth was considered beautiful rather than a toothy grin. In the modern, western world, we now consider smiling for a photograph the most appropriate. 

It’s funny how the phrase ‘say cheese’ has survived over the years; even children today shout ‘cheese’ unprompted. It creates a natural looking smile with the corners of the mouth turning up and the teeth showing. Sometimes it is just used by a photographer to prepare the people for the photograph without them even saying it themselves. An alternative method, is inserting any other word, for example, ‘say silly sausage’ for comedic effect. The purpose of this one is to try and get some natural giggles after they’ve said it.

The most recent ‘selfie’ phenomenon has made the pout or ‘duck face’ very popular. Are we seeing a full circle coming back around? ‘Say prune’ may soon be back in fashion!

w: www.maephotography.co.uk           e: info@maephotography.co.uk            t: 01206 632200

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