‘Say Cheese!’ worldwide – Get everyone to smile!

Recently, I was surprised to hear that people in Tunisia yell ‘Couscous!’ before taking a picture. That made me wonder: What do photographers in other countries actually say instead of ‘Say Cheese!’ when they want to make someone smile for the camera.

In my research I learned that ‘Say Cheese!’ is one of the most used invitations to smile worldwide. Besides all English-speaking countries ‘say cheese’ is also popular in Belgium, Czech, Greece, Lithuania and Sweden, among others. Even in Japan a somewhat shortened ‘Cheese!’ has become the norm. But photographer Peter Skjold Petersen, on a quest to to find the perfect smiling phrase together with linguist Tim Bowen, has come to the conclusion that the French ‘Ouistiti!’ (little monkey) guarantees for the most beautiful smiles.

Another study, however, showed that an ‘-ah’ at the end of the ‘say cheese’-phrase makes for a more beautiful mouth in the picture. But as you will see now, very few countries seem to take these findings into account. Instead, cheese, bread and potatoes seem to play quite a big role in all parts of the world when it comes to smiling!

‘Say Cheese!’ country by country

Argentina (as well as most of Spanish Latin America): ‘Whisky!’

Belarus: ‘Ўсміхнуся (Wsmikhnusia)!’ (Smile!)

Bulgaria: ‘Zele!’ (Salad!)

China: ‘茄子! (qiezzi)’ (sounds like cheese, but means eggplant)

Croatia: ‘Ptičica!’ (Little bird!)

Denmark: Sig ‘appelsin!’ (Say orange!)

Estonia: ‘Hernesupp!’ (Pea soup!)

Finland: ‘Muikku!’ (Whitefish!)

France: ‘Ouistiti!’ (Little monkey!)

Germany: ‘Spaghetti!’ or ‘Käsekuchen!’ (Cheese cake!)

Greece: ‘Πες τυρί! (Pes tyrí)’ (Say cheese!)

Hungary: ‘Csíz!’ (Little bird!)

India: ‘Paneer!’ (Cheese!)

Indonesia: Buncis!’ (Green beans!)

Iran: ‘سیب (Saib)!’ (Apple!)

Israel: ‘Tagid ‘chiz” (Say cheese!)

Italy: ‘Famiglia!’ (Family!) or ‘Formaggio!’ (Cheese!)

Korea: ‘Kimchi!’

Morocco: ‘Khbiz!’ (Bread!)

Netherlands: ‘Zaag eens kaas!’ (Say cheese!)

Norway: ‘Smil!’ (Smile!)

Poland: ‘Marmolada!’ (Jam!)

Portugal (and Brasil): ‘Diga X!’ (Say X!)

Romania: ‘Zâmbeşte!’ (Smile!)

Russia: Скажи ‘изюм’ (Skazhi ‘izyum’)! (Say Raisins!)

Serbia and Slowenia: ‘Sir!’ (Cheese!)

Spain: ‘Patata!’ (Potatoe!)

Sweden: ‘Omelett!’

Thailand: ‘Pepsi!’

Turkey: ‘Peynir!’ (Cheese!)

Tunisia: ‘Couscous!’

Ukraine: ‘Посміхніться (Posmikhnit’sya)!’ (Smile!)

Say Cheese: Marco Buch with a smiling horse.
If only I remembered what I said to this horse!


Do you have more ‘Say Cheese!’ variations? Are some of mine wrong? Leave a comment! 

This post is also available in: German

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