Art and Photography

Why does everyone like "say cheese" photos?

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  • Mar 14th, 2017 2:04 pm
[OP]
Member
May 13, 2014
252 posts
28 upvotes
Vancouver, BC

Why does everyone like "say cheese" photos?

Whenever I take pictures of people, the people are never looking into the camera, much less smiling at the camera.

I really don't get the whole stand-together-with-a-fake-smile-in-front-of-a-tourist-attraction thing, it just seems incredibly cheesy and artificial to me. If possible, I'd love to take a photo of the tourist attraction itself without anyone in the shot. Yet most people don't seem to get why I "don't like having my picture taken" - which is not true - even when I explain.

Do most people view photography as being merely a tool for bragging rights?
14 replies
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Sep 3, 2005
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You're like most enthusiast/hobbyists. I'm usually not in any of my photos either. Although I don't think people have themselves in photos for bragging rights. If anything, they want to show everyone that they are actually at X location.

If anything, hobbyists/enthusiast/pros will take and post photos for bragging rights. We like to share cool photos, so people can say things like "nice photo, did you take it?"

While i myself enjoy photography, regardless of what people think of my photos. When i do think i have a so called "cool photo", i do post it on instagram. I don't post all my photos on instagram, just the ones i think are cool. Why do i do it? Bragging rights of course. Why else does any other hobbyist post cool photos to social media.

Photographers like taking pictures of the scenery, while most of the general public like the scenery, but like to show that they were at X location. We as photographers don't care about that.

I think we as hobbyists use photography as bragging rights, where the general public just wants to show their at X location, with this person or that person.
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phuviano wrote:
Jan 30th, 2017 12:39 am
You're like most enthusiast/hobbyists. I'm usually not in any of my photos either. Although I don't think people have themselves in photos for bragging rights. If anything, they want to show everyone that they are actually at X location.

If anything, hobbyists/enthusiast/pros will take and post photos for bragging rights. We like to share cool photos, so people can say things like "nice photo, did you take it?"

While i myself enjoy photography, regardless of what people think of my photos. When i do think i have a so called "cool photo", i do post it on instagram. I don't post all my photos on instagram, just the ones i think are cool. Why do i do it? Bragging rights of course. Why else does any other hobbyist post cool photos to social media.

Photographers like taking pictures of the scenery, while most of the general public like the scenery, but like to show that they were at X location. We as photographers don't care about that.

I think we as hobbyists use photography as bragging rights, where the general public just wants to show their at X location, with this person or that person.
Yeah, it's really more for documentation purposes. My mom or aunts on Facebook love posting group photos of them and their friends at restaurants as a way to show to everyone that they're at x place with so-and-so. Whereas their photos might look like The Last Supper image with everyone standing behind the table, if I was to take the shot, I'd prefer a more candid moment with a dynamic angle, and not a straight on boring shot.

... Cellphones have made this process even more annoying, because then what happens is that if someone is taking a group photo, no fail, everyone rushes to the photographer to give their cellphone, so that they also can have copies of the same boring shot. If I get roped into taking these photos, I generally just try to tell them that I'll just take a photo with one person's cellphone, and they can then email the photos to each other...
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Nov 24, 2004
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OP, do you have kids? I also was not fond of the "say cheese" touristy approach to photography, but having a family has made it more important for me to capture memories of my kids' childhoods.
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Jun 15, 2012
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As a photographer, you can take the lead and ask people to do whatever you want to produce a fake candid, from posing their bodies/limbs/hands to getting them to look at specific angles, and eliciting a reaction at the last moment (Roberto Valenzuela).

You want that model look? Chin forward and down, squinch the eyes (Peter Hurley) and have the subject look at the lens to catch when they see the shutter release, their concentration obliterates nervous facial tension. Try it in the mirror.

"Cheese" is just the default easy thing that everyone knows. If you want one of those done properly, make a joke right before click, the smiles at the end are genuine. Or ask people to crack up on the count of 3 and have them make the sound because it helps the expression (Jerry Ghionis tip).

That's basically how I work when I shoot a wedding. There's lots of ways how to capture real expressions, nobody cares how you did it when they enjoy the final shot.

Or if it's a clean background with no people you're after, use a tripod and take several shots, masking people out completely through layers in Photoshop, sooner or later they move in the series of shots. Or clone them out in the single shot, not as clean imho.

All those selfies with landmarks behind them? ya, people just want to post that they were there.
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+1 if it's not going to print and nobody cares, just do that
Newbie
Oct 29, 2016
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Man, you are saying my thought exactly, Upvote for you.
I don't get the point of taking a photo with a fake smile either. If you are in a tour and having fun you would smile anyway, You won't be needing any "Cheese" to make you smile. And about photography, there are lots of kinds of photography. One of them is "Take as much as you can, leave nothing at all" kind. This kind keep capturing photos like they don't have any eyes or memories. Camera lens and memory (storage) is all they got.
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Feb 6, 2017
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'cause it's funnier than deeeead photos. but I always say boobs
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Raident wrote:
Jan 29th, 2017 4:53 am
Do most people view photography as being merely a tool for bragging rights?
nah, you're just being judgemental

The flip side of the argument is, why take photos of an attraction itself when it'll just look like the post card?

For me, I'm not in the frame in about 90% of my photos. But I still like being in some because when you review it in 6 mo, 5 years, 20 you'll remember where you were in life, your mood, what your outlook was, etc.

dear diary for grown-ass folks, basically.
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Adding or including people to photographs is called "human interest". Sometimes its appropriate, sometimes not! For example, a photo of the CN Tower is pretty boring because its such a well known landmark here. However, a picture of your family in front of the CN Tower is a story: this is the day Aunt X and Uncle Y were visiting and we all went to Toronto to look at the sights and this is just before we went up the CN Tower, etc. etc. On the other hand, a photograph of the CN Tower from an unusual angle or viewpoint doesn't need people in it and people might even spoil that photograph.
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I did a headshot for a banker last week, without any help she couldn't get past the Bing smile.

Image

She liked the ones where I caught her in the moment just before heavy laughter, it relieved facial tension and it was natural. My goal is always to get to know them genuinely, then comically break them lol.

OT, the method I used = The Art Behind the Headshot, the lighting = Illuminating the Face, both Peter Hurley. Forget his exact lighting though, he's using thouasand$ in KinoFlo's.
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Another pet peeve (and somewhat related to this topic these days) is the vertically oriented smartphone photo.... Whenever I see someone (usually an older person or someone who wants to post on Snapchat) wanting to take a say cheese smartphone photo in portrait orientation, I cringe. Because they're likely taking in less of the background and removing context, while photographing the entire bodies of people, which can get pretty awkward.
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