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We ask people who become the photographing subject(s) to smile when taking a picture of a family, team, and group of people by calling “Hai (Say) cheese!” to them.

I think we imported this practice from English speaking countries. I don’t know other variations of “Hai cheese!” than “Waratte – laugh, meaning “Smile!” in Japanese.

Are there any other variations than “Say cheese” being used when taking a photograph in Anglophonic countries?

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I've heard 'one two three' before. –  user49727 Oct 4 '13 at 14:05
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The short answer is, "Yes." People actually say all sorts of random stuff when taking pictures. The most simple is, "Smile!" –  MrHen Oct 4 '13 at 14:34
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Some variations I've heard are "Smile for the birdie!" and (when dealing with children) "Stinky feet!" –  dingo_dan Oct 5 '13 at 17:14
    
People usually ask to say "seeb"(=apple) or even "holoo"(=cheese) in Persian. The former for normal photo smiles, and the latter for the nowadays' instagram smiles!! –  Neeku Jul 13 at 23:45
    
@Yoichi, Isn't "daisuki" also used instead of "cheese" in Japan? –  Pacerier Sep 6 at 8:57

7 Answers 7

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The reason that people are asked to say "Cheese" is because the "ee" sound brings the speaker's lips up into a smile, while the "se" sound at the end brings their teeth together to form a smile.

Any similar word construct works, sucha s "flea's knees", "burt's bees", or even "smile please!"

Other words that just have an "ee" or an "s" sound at the end can also be used, though are less common. One example I can think of is in the video game Earthbound, a magical camera man asks you to say "Fuzzy Pickles!" Which is also funny enough to make you smile anyway.

The short answer then is, "whatever works, works".

See this question and answer for further reference.

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'Cheese' is the most common in Britain, but a good photographer will come up with something novel which makes everyone smile broadly - the last one I heard isn't repeatable here, but on a previous occasion we were asked to say 'fleas knees'.

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If you don't like 'cheese', you can say 'teeth' and still get the desired effect.

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In that case you want to press the shutter before people get to the th. –  Carsten Schultz Oct 4 '13 at 15:36
    
OMG! This is the most awesome comment I've ever seen in my whole life @CarstenSchultz! I've been laughing out so loud for the past several minutes. I'm sure I'll keep giggling randomly in public for the next couple of days. –  Neeku Jul 13 at 23:49

Try the French "ouistiti" (pronounced wistiti) [it means the monkey marmoset]

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Yes there are. Since he idea of saying cheese is the position of the mouth, any word that is slightly funny that also makes your mouth look like it is smiling will work and is used by photographers (some silly for surprise effect).

I see Wikipedia agrees with me

Do Japanese actually smile when they say the word Waratte or it is a command to make them smile? If I say waratte, my mouth just looks open...

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It's common to say either Cheese or Smile in Indonesia. –  des Oct 4 '13 at 14:04
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And again a downvote without comment? What is EL&U becoming? –  mplungjan Oct 4 '13 at 16:20
    
@mplungjan, how would you say the word ‘cheese’ [tʃiːz] without the smiling effect? Especially when you consider that the Japanese generally say [tɕiːsu̥] (with an alveolopatal affricate, rather than a palato-alveolar one, the latter requiring more rounding of the lips). –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 4 '13 at 17:45
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@mplungian. I’ve been getting 1-2 down votes without comment almost every time, which happen as soon as I post a question. Down-votes to my question started early this year. It never happened in the previous two years. I don’t know why it happens. I’m sure it comes from one or two ‘habitual offenders.’ But it doesn’t harm me a bit. I can always outnumber 2 – 4 points of loss of reputation they give with my new posts. I think down / close vote without comment / reason is a mean and insidious action. But existence of evil is fact of life we endure. Some user advised me to stay philosophical. –  Yoichi Oishi Oct 4 '13 at 21:54
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@YoichiOishi We really say Cheese and Smile (in English) to make our grin and smile when doing it. It's rather out of context here, but I suggest you to watch the following video regarding how our English 'teachers' could generate long term motivation. Hopefully Moderators here would be inspired too "Inspiring teachers: State school teachers of English in China and Indonesia who generate long term motivation" englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/seminars/… –  des Oct 5 '13 at 3:46

Decades ago, there was an American television show where the announcer exhorted people to "Smile, you're on Candid Camera" (the name of the show).

That line was used by "ordinary" people to get others to smile for the camera when I was young.

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It may not be common among Americans, but certain family members would say "Say ice-creeeeam." which produces the desired "ee smile".

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