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Culture —– Latin Photos – Smile or Frown?

by Dave Clark

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December 20th, 2009

Vocabulario de la semana – Vocabulary of the Week

cuando sacamos fotos – when we take photos
la persona que saca la foto – the person that takes the photo
no tengo idea – I have no idea
la palabra – the word
es una tradición – it’s a tradition
personalmente – personally
no hay – there’s not
en sus fotos – in their photos
en sus caras – on their faces
para fotos – for photos
a la historia – at history
gente aquí en – people here in
cuando miro fotos de – when I look at pictures of
de un grupo tan serio – from such a serious group
h ace años – years ago
abierta – open
era difícil – it was difficult
con la tecnología – with technology
licencias de conducir – driver’s licenses
amigos latinos – Latin friends
me dijeron – they told me
una persona seria – a serious person
una multa – a ticket
en vez de – instead of
la próxima vez que – the next time that
una persona latina – a Latin person
hay que darse cuenta – it’s necessary to realize
antes de dejar – before leaving
en ciertas regiones de – in certain regions of
mucha gente – many people
en las paredes de sus casas – on the walls of their homes
muchas fotos – many photos
mucha gente – many people
en vez de tener – instead of having
pinturas – paintings
si alguien tiene – if anyone has
háganos saber de eso – let us know about it (command form)
como siempre – as always
diferencias culturales – cultural di fferences
a veces – sometimes
una explicación lógica – a logical explanation
su cultura – their culture
es importante – it’s important

Here in the United States, cuando sacamos fotos, whether informally or at a photo studio, la persona que saca la foto usually exclaims, “Say Cheese!” This is supposed to make us smile until the photograph can be taken. No tengo idea as to why we actually say la palabra “cheese” except that es una tradición to get people to smile. Personalmente, when I think about a piece of cheese, it makes me rather hungry, not want to smile.

In Latin America, no hay “cheese” en sus fotos. When pictures are taken, Latin Americans usually have a somewhat serious look en sus caras. They don’t often smile para fotos like we do here in the U.S.

A brief look a la historia

If you look at fotos taken around say 150 years ago, gente aquí en the U.S. didn’t smile much either. Cuando miro fotos de my ancestors, I wonder how I could have evolved de un grupo tan serio. It’s been explained to me that they frowned, or looked serious, en fotos hace años because the camera aperture had to be abierta for such a long time to take a foto; era difícil for them to hold a smile that long – so they frowned.

Con la tecnología being up to date, people still sometimes frown or look serious para fotos in Latin America – especially on licencias de conducir. I questioned a few amigos latinos about this and here’s what me dijeron. They said that on licencias de conducir, you want to look like una persona seria so if the police stop you, they will not think you’re a goof-off or a trouble-maker and give you una multa. In portraits, it was similarly explained that you want to be viewed as a persona seria en vez de a joker.

La próxima vez que you see a portrait of una persona latina, before you pass judgment thinking they must be a very serious, non-funloving person, hay que darse cuenta that it is part of their culture to look serio en fotos, and don’t judge a book by its cover.

Antes de dejar this theme, another interesting thing I have noticed en ciertas regiones de Latin America is that mucha gente, en vez de tener a wedding photo, would have a wedding painting hung en las paredes de sus casas. I didn’t see muchas fotos hanging up in people’s homes, but there were ample amounts of pinturas.

Si alguien tiene any other interesting information about fotos in Latin America , Please visit our blog to share your thoughts! Click here! We would love to hear your feedback. Also, como siempre, I would love to hear from our international subscribers about diferencias culturales with fotos in from your countries.

Moral of the Story: A veces people do things differently than Americans, and there may not always be una explicación lógica for it other than it’s part of su cultura. Also, es importante not to take ourselves too seriously. We can do this by learning to have a laugh at some of our own diferencias culturales.

Sneak peek at next week: “Amigo Week!”

¡Hasta luego! (“Until later”)

If you would like to learn Spanish, click here!
David S. Clark — President / Director

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2 Responses

  1. Linda Tannos says:

    When you say the word “cheese” it makes your lips form a smile :)

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