Photographers needed a trick. Photographers needed a trick to capture their subjects alert and smiling. Early on they discovered a trick, a stuffed birdie on a stick to surprise and delight their subjects.
“Watch the birdie” became widespread.
The introduction of flexible film by Kodak democratized photography. The camera was portable and ubiquitous — the birdie on the stick was suddenly dated and a bit cheesy.
FDR is credited with introducing the politician’s trick of saying “cheese” to appear at one’s best in a photograph. A hard ‘C’ sound combined with a long front-of-the-mouth vowel brought out the best of everyone’s smile world-round. And it helped to show off all of those improvements in 20th century dental hygiene.
Now an anachronism, Korean brides were once encouraged to refrain from smiling at their weddings – tradition says that if the bride smiles the first child will be a girl.
France: "Dites 'ouistiti'!" (marmoset monkey), alt “Dites ‘cerises’” (cherries)
Korea : ‘gimchi’ .
Netherlands: ‘Lach eens naar het vogeltje!’ ( Smile at the birdie)
Spain : ‘Sonrian’, alt ‘Whiskey’
US: “Say ‘Cheese’”.