Here’s an incredibly simple tip for photographing people - and one that really works. Instead of telling your subjects to say “cheese” when you’re posing them for a photo, tell them to say “cheeks” instead!
The short version is that whereas saying the word “cheese” involves only a fairly slight movement of the mouth, leading to an obviously-forced smile, saying the word “cheeks” also involves a raising of the cheeks and a contraction of muscles around the eyes, which leads to a more convincing smile. A so-called “Duchenne smile”, in fact - named after the French neurologist who studied smiles in the mid-19th century, and identified two distinct types of smiles (sincere/Duchenne vs. insincere/non-Duchenne).
Interestingly, scientists have recently suggested that fake or not, putting on a Duchenne smile can also help combat stress and put you in a better mood. Sure, it sounds a little crazy, but maybe it’s not such a bad idea to start saying “cheeks” behind the camera as well!
Next time you’re having your photograph taken don’t say “cheese”, say “cheeks”. Saying “cheeks” will not only shape your mouth nicely but will also remind you to squeeze your cheeks upwards into a visually satisfying, genuine-looking Duchenne smile.