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  • Writer's pictureGeorg Fagerlund

Say cheese... Noooo! | Portrait photographer in Perugia, Italy

Cheese in English, Muikku in Finnish, Sorridi or Famiglia in Italian, Зеле (Cabbage) in Bulgarian, Omelett in Swedish and so on and so on... That's what we often hear when a photographer is about to press the shutter button. In every country there seems to be a word or a phrase which is intended to make people, when they say the word, look like they smile. Does it work? I guess you know the answer. Smile is something that's hard to force out or fake. We have some 43 facial muscles and now try to make them work together for a smile just by saying... Cheese. C'mon!

I still think that it's important to smile in a photograph, it just makes people look so much better. So what can we do? Let's see...


When you are faced with a camera lens, you for sure might think that that's a serious busines, no reasons to relax. Yes, it is somewhat exciting to be photographed and relaxing might feel a bit difficult, but that is the best thing you can try to do. If you are being shot for a portrait, be in good time so that you can chat a little with the photographer. If the photographer knows his thing, he will make you at ease, make you feel at home and this will make you feel relaxed. If you have any anxieties or worries regarding the shoot, don't hesitate to ask and talk about them with your photographer. Hopefully this kind of a conversation will make you feel relaxed, and when you are relaxed it's easier to smile.

Think positive

When is it easiest to smile? When the mind is full of negative thoughts or when the your heart is full of positivity? First thing you have to try to get rid of, before the photoshoot, is bad thoughts of yourself. We all have those imperfections we don't like. The sad thing is that we so often tend to exaggerate our flaws. Instead of focusing on our "bad" sides why not show some sympathy and love towards our self and put the focus on the good features. Remember your beautiful features and appreciate them and this way it for sure will be easier to smile. Remember you are beautiful, you are handsome! Already smiling?

One smile killer might be things happening around us. The negative feed is so strong today that sometimes it just feels that there are no reasons to smile. Believe me, there is! Focusing your mind on your loved ones, something good that recently happened, beautiful things in the nature, good joke you heard, and forcing a way as much as you can of that mental garbage which so easily steals our happiness. This as well, will help us to smile.

Trust the photographer

When in front of the camera don't forget that you are not alone. Behind the camera is a photographer and if you chose him wisely he for sure is there to help you, you do not have to struggle with your smile alone. A good photographer tries to break the ice and put you on ease. He chats, asks you questions without trying to ask too private things, he might tell a joke, in general he tries to make you as comfortable with the situation as possible. He gives you even direction how to pose so that you look your best. When your photographer knows what his doing, just let it go and smile. Remember your photographer is not a dentist, no need to fear!

One quick tip

Smiling does not mean looking like the Cheshire cat. Now some people do have beautiful teeth and a smile that reaches from one ear to another. I'm happy for them. For others similar smile is out of the reach. Smaller mouth may make it impossible to give that shiny million dollar smile. Crooked teeth maybe makes it hard for us to show our chewing equipment, we just don't want to do it, and that's totally fine. Don't worry, we all can smile in a way that fits us personally, and here comes a tip you might find useful... Instead of focusing all your strength on your mouth, try to smile with your eyes! Think of something nice and show it with your eyes! The focus is usually anyway on the eyes, that's the sharpest point in the photo, and if your eyes shine of happiness and joy, it will show in the image, no matter what your mouth does. So let your wonderful smile shine!

In the end...

Don't be afraid of smiling in your photos. Relax, enjoy and show it with your eyes! Of course not every single photography session means a happy smiling face. In some photos the requirement is a serious look, but when we speak about the "normal" case, let that smile shine! It's your smile and we love it!

Interested in a fun shoot with lots of smile and good vibes? Well, hit the icon in the end of this post and it will take you to the contact sheet from where you can send me a message!

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