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What are the good alternatives to saying "cheese" while posing for a photo?

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closed as not constructive by Matt E. Эллен, MετάEd, tchrist, Kris, Daniel Oct 11 '12 at 13:12

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

If you're intending to invoke a smile, I would suggest words ending in the "ee" sound. Cheese and the ones @kiamlaluno suggest do contain that sound, but they all have a final consonant, which means the smile has to stop at some point. Some possibilities:

  • free
  • see
  • glee
  • whee! (my favorite)

Tell your subjects to say one of those and hold it, and you should get plenty of smiles. I used "whee!" with my own children because it was fun for them to say and had gleeful associations as well.

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Whee looks like a great substitute for cheese. Thanks and +1. – Mehper C. Palavuzlar Feb 12 '11 at 22:41
I have heard whiskey, which seemed to work. In Spain they say patata (=potato) which seems to widen the mouth in steps – Henry Feb 12 '11 at 23:45

Someone from the UK I met a few years ago used to say syphilis.

He would wait until everybody was assembled for the photo and then let out "everyone, say 'syphilis'". It was truly hilarious, and the pics came out great.

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I'm sure I've had this as well - but I can't remember the photographer who did it. – HorusKol Feb 13 '11 at 13:08
@HorusKol Are you sure that you've had this? In that case, I believe a photographer wasn't involved, unless it was a woman and acting other than in the capacity of a photographer. (I'm assuming a male gender and heterosexual preference.) – Konrad Viltersten Jan 5 '14 at 22:00

My personal favorite is: "Say sex!" - people always smile.

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How about you just ask people to smile? :)

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Because most people don't generally smile a natural smile if they think about it - which leaves either getting the mouth shape by saying a word, or catching them unawares with a ridiculous word (like syphilis) – HorusKol Feb 13 '11 at 13:07

Say "kimchi"! And then you can really draw out the final i to give the photographer lots of time.

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The reason you usually ask people being photographed to say cheese is the position assumed from the lips when they pronounce the word. Every word that contain the same /tʃi/ sound would work fine. For example, cheer, cheap, cheat, and cheek are some of those words.

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And what would you call that position, @kiamlaluno? Come on, I think you know this one. ;^) – Robusto Feb 12 '11 at 22:31
I know, I know! It's the position of your lips when you (impersonal you) kiss the glass of a window, and the temperature is under the freezing point of the water at the mean sean level. By impersonal you I mean your lips are yours, but you are not really you. Did I guess? What do I win? ;-) – kiamlaluno Feb 12 '11 at 22:46

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