Why Do We Say Cheese When We Are Being Photographed
Say Cheese… It’s the most common phrase we hear when someone is taking your picture. But where did it come from? How does it make us smile? Who says cheese and when–and why? And does saying cheese really improve our pictures…?
Let’s find out.
The origin of ‘cheese’
The word ‘cheese’ is a very old one by any standards and has been used in English since the 14th century. It comes from the Anglo-Norman word ‘cuisse′, derived from the Latin word ‘caseus’. The Romans brought cheese-making to Britain when they invaded, but it wasn’t until much later that cheeses were made on this side of the channel. In Early Modern English, when cheese came to be specifically associated with a dairy product (as opposed to other foods like meat or fish), it was spelled as ‘chiz’.
Who says cheese and when–and why?
Nowadays we say ‘Cheese!’ before having our picture taken – this is to encourage ourselves and those around us to smile. This is because the word ‘cheese’ makes us smile – it is not a command.
When we are posing for someone who is taking a photograph of us, whether this be for a school photography project or one we intend to keep and cherish with our family members, we want to look happy/excited/exciting/etc… This makes us happy – and smiling.
People like to take pictures, particularly of their families. Families are very important in our lives, so why not take a picture of them? Saying ‘cheese’ makes people smile, and smiling is an expression that is natural and real. We all want to have these kinds of emotions captured in our photographs as opposed to posed ones that look false.
Does saying cheese really improve our pictures…?
Smile, the default expression for photographs, it’s a natural response to seeing a camera. So when you see someone who seems to not be smiling in a photograph, you should say ‘Cheese!’
Taking portraits that are not posed involves having some kind of relationship with people who become our friends. Here, it is natural for us to smile, for the same reasons that our family portraits are taken. We feel happy and comfortable with the photographer.
Taking photos of yourself doesn’t require any friends. This is because it’s natural for a person to smile when they pose for a picture, they don’t have to say ‘cheese’ because we all know that saying ‘cheese’ makes you smile; so we use this word when we take a photo of ourselves!
When we say ‘cheese’ to be photographed, it is to encourage the person taking the photograph, and those around them to also smile. It also makes people feel less self-conscious about being in front of a camera (as well as being brought back to reality from their daydream).
It is therefore a natural response to say for individuals in front of a camera to make them feel good about themselves by being more relaxed and excited about taking photos.
In conclusion: Saying ‘Cheese!’ makes us smile when we pose for photographs. This is because the word itself means ‘smile’, and smiling makes us happy.