You’re off on your travels with your beloved camera and lenses, aiming to get some golden shots to bring back for your portfolio. As any photographer knows, it’s often that human touch that makes a good photo great, a face, an emotion, or a situation to decipher. But what happens if you’re in the middle of a foreign land, and there’s a huge language barrier preventing you from asking permission?
There’s only so far waving a camera at people will get you, and you know as well as they do that it’s not the most polite way to go about things. Thankfully, The Case Farm has put together a pretty remarkable infographic, helping us to say “can I take your photo” in 25 widely spoken languages. So rather than being told “no entiendo” followed by an awkward silence, why not give it a try?
As any non-native English speaker till tell you, it goes a long way when someone makes a special effort to speak the local language. English is a second language in most countries these days, as it has become the language of business, and it’s actually compulsory in countries like Spain in order to study at university. So the chances are, most people of a certain age will have a grasp of the English language, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be both amused and impressed by your efforts to speak their mother tongue. Also, asking them to take their photo is essentially asking a favour, as you want them as a subject in your work, so it’s respectful and polite to make this kind of effort with them. Even if you get the pronunciation completely wrong, or accidentally tell them you like their pet cats, you’ll have tried to communicate outside of the assumption that ‘everyone speaks English’ – which will really be noticed. It will be hard for them to refuse!
Můžu si vas vyfotit? Asking ‘can I take your photo’ in unusual-sounding languages, especially those with characters and sounds that are alien to English speakers, is a creative exercise that you can enjoy getting to grips with. For example, the above sentence is in Czech, which has unusual letters such as ů (basically an ‘oo’ sound). If you were to mistake this and pronounce a typical English Z, it would still be understood, but why not challenge yourself to get the sounds right? Google translate offers a sound option where you can listen to the sentence being said, but watch out for direct translations on here, as they are not always natural.
So now you’ve become a multi-lingual genius who can ask the all-important question in 25 whole languages (you’re welcome) – it’s time to go back to basics. After all, you won’t get very far, or at least you will travel with difficulty if you don’t have the right camera cases for your holiday – The Case Farm is a great place to get waterproof, hard cases for travelling with.
And make sure you take into account the weight of your camera equipment on a flight, as some airlines love to make an extra dollar from this.
Have a great trip! Don’t forget to share your photos with us!