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1113 Having a Family Portrait Taken

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,113 – Having a Family Portrait Taken.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,113. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Go to our website at ESLPod.com. Download a Learning Guide for this episode right after you become a member of ESL Podcast – more information on our website.

This episode is a dialogue between a mother and a father who are trying to get a picture taken of the entire family. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Dad: Okay, everybody, take your places.

Mom: We’re in our places. Can’t the photographer just take the photo?

Dad: We have to pose. The whole point is to look natural.

Mom: If you wanted a natural family photo, why are we in a portrait studio in the middle of a sitting?

Dad: I want us to stand in front of a nice background and pose with nice props. I’m tired of looking at the photos that we take. They’re not very good and require hours of touching up or creative cropping.

Mom: Instead, we’re supposed to look natural wearing color-coordinated clothing and standing in unlikely poses.

Dad: Don’t be like that. Generations to come will cherish this family photo.

Mom: I doubt it.

Dad: How about if I ask the photographer to take some shots just of you?

Mom: You mean like the headshots Hollywood stars get?

Dad: Uh, sure, if that’s what you’d want.

Mom: Well, in that case, I’ll need to have my hair cut, get my makeup done, and buy a new outfit . . .

Dad: What have I gotten myself into?!

[end of dialogue]

The title of this episode is “Having a Family Portrait (portrait) Taken.” A “portrait,” in this dialogue, refers to a photograph. Usually when we talk about having a portrait taken, we’re talking about having a photograph in usually some sort of formal setting, or when you are wearing very nice clothes. It’s a photograph that might be used for putting on your wall, or even in some cases for giving to other people as a gift. In the old days, before cameras, people had portraits painted of them, but most people don’t have painted portraits. They have portraits that are photographs.

Dad begins by saying, “Okay, everybody, take your places.” “To take your place” means to sit or stand where you’re supposed to for some sort of performance or show, or in this case, for taking a photograph. Dad is telling everyone to take their places – to go where they’re supposed to go. The mother says, “We’re in our places. Can’t the photographer just take the photo?” The “photographer” is the person whose job it is to take photographs.

Dad says, “We have to pose.” “To pose” (pose) is to hold your body in a particular position, especially so that you can be photographed or painted. You put your body in a certain position and someone paints you in that position, or in this case, takes a photograph of you. Dad says, “The whole point is to look natural.” “The whole point” means the main purpose of something, the reason you are doing something.

Of course, this is a little funny because if you are posing, you’re really not doing something naturally. To do something natural would be not to pose, not to put your body in a particular fixed position in order to have a photograph taken of it. Mom says, “If you wanted a natural family photo, why are we in a portrait studio in the middle of a sitting?” Mom has a good point here. She’s telling Dad that they don’t need to go to a portrait studio in order to get a natural look to their photograph.

A “portrait studio” would be a place you go to get your photograph taken for some formal event, usually. Only professional photographers typically have portrait studios – places where people can go and get their picture taken. Portrait studios often have special lighting and backgrounds that are used as part of the process of taking the portrait. A “sitting” (sitting) is a period of time when you sit in front of a camera or an artist in order to have your painting made or your photograph taken.

Dad says, “I want us to stand in front of a nice background and pose with nice props.” A “background” is what is seen behind you. And as I just mentioned, portrait studios or photo studios often have special backgrounds special pieces of paper or material that look like mountains or fields or something that you stand in front of in order to have your photograph taken. Dad wants a nice background with nice “props” (props).

A “prop” is an object that is usually used for a performance such as a play, but it could also be used in a photo session – that is, when you are taking photographs of someone, such as in this case. A prop is any physical object that would be used as part of a performance or in what we might call a “photo shoot” (shoot), which is a session or a period of time when many photographs are taken of a person.

Dad says, “I am tired of looking at the photos that we take. They’re not very good and require hours of touching up or creative cropping.” “To touch up” a photograph is to improve it by making small changes to it. Nowadays, of course, with programs such as Photoshop, people are able to change photographs, often making them look nothing like the original photograph – the actual thing that was photographed, or person. “Cropping” (cropping) refers to cutting the top, bottom, or sides of a digital photograph so that you eliminate certain things that were in the original photo.

Mom says, “Instead, we’re supposed to look natural wearing color-coordinated clothing and standing in unlikely poses.” Mom is sort of making fun of Dad here. She’s saying that they don’t look very natural if they’re wearing color-coordinated clothing. “Color-coordinated” means that the clothes, the colors of the clothes, somehow match – that they look good together. Mom, of course, is saying that this isn’t very natural looking. Dad says to Mom, “Don’t be like that.” “Don’t be like that” is what you say to someone who you think is making fun or is behaving in a way that you don’t like.

Dad says, “Generations to come will cherish this family photo.” The expression “generations (generations) to come” refers to people in your family who are younger than you, or who will be born in the future – “future generations,” we might also say. “To cherish” (cherish) means to admire something and to value it, to think it’s very important, to think it is worthy. What Dad is saying is that in the future, his children and their children and their children will cherish this photo. They will think it very valuable.

Mom says, however, “I doubt it.” She doesn’t think so. Dad says, “How about if I ask the photographer to take some shots just of you,” meaning a photograph just of the mom. Mom says, “You mean like the headshots Hollywood stars get?” A “headshot” (headshot) is a photograph of just your neck and your head. It doesn’t include the rest of your body. This is very popular here in Los Angeles, here in Hollywood, where actors and actresses try to get jobs in the television industry or the movie industry or in modeling, and they have a photograph made of themselves.

We call that photograph of their head their “headshot.” I personally don’t have a headshot. The funny thing is when you go to restaurants here in Los Angeles, you can look up on the wall and most of them, even restaurants that aren’t very good quality, will have headshots on the wall of actors and actresses who’ve eaten there. Usually the photograph, the headshot, is signed by that person. Sometimes they’re famous people, sometimes they’re people that you’ve never heard of before. Anyway, Mom is asking if she can have a headshot made of herself.

Dad says, “Uh, sure if that’s what you want.” Mom then says, “Well in that case” – in this situation, then – “I’ll need to have my hair cut, get my makeup done, and buy a new outfit.” “To have your makeup done” means to have someone do it on you professionally – to have your makeup done in such a way that it looks perfect or makes you look perfect. A “new outfit” would be a new set of clothing. Dad is now regretting offering Mom a headshot photograph. He says, “What have I gotten myself into?” meaning “What trouble or difficulty have I created now for myself by saying that?”

Now, when I was younger we, a couple of times, had a family portrait taken of my family – my brothers and sisters and my parents. Now remember, I come from a very large family. I have ten brothers and sisters, so there were 13 people in the family portrait. The portrait was taken as part of a little book that was published by the church that I went to as a child. The church would bring in a professional photographer and families could come and have their family portrait taken to be used as part of this little book.

Well, the family portrait that I remember was when I was about five or six years old, when we all got up in front of the camera to have the photograph taken. The photographer said, “Oh no, just one family at a time,” and my father said, “Well, this is just one family.”

Now let’s listen to the dialogue this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Dad: Okay, everybody, take your places.

Mom: We’re in our places. Can’t the photographer just take the photo?

Dad: We have to pose. The whole point is to look natural.

Mom: If you wanted a natural family photo, why are we in a portrait studio in the middle of a sitting?

Dad: I want us to stand in front of a nice background and pose with nice props. I’m tired of looking at the photos that we take. They’re not very good and require hours of touching up or creative cropping.

Mom: Instead, we’re supposed to look natural wearing color-coordinated clothing and standing in unlikely poses.

Dad: Don’t be like that. Generations to come will cherish this family photo.

Mom: I doubt it.

Dad: How about if I ask the photographer to take some shots just of you?

Mom: You mean like the headshots Hollywood stars get?

Dad: Uh, sure, if that’s what you’d want.

Mom: Well, in that case, I’ll need to have my hair cut, get my makeup done, and buy a new outfit . . .

Dad: What have I gotten myself into?!

[end of dialogue]

Generations to come, I think, will cherish the wonderful scripts written by our wonderful scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2015 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
to take (one’s) place – to sit or stand where someone is supposed to be for a show, performance, speech, or photo session

* The theater manager just dimmed the lights, so it’s time for us to take our places.

photographer – a person whose job is to take photos (images made with a camera) of people, places, and events

* The photographer took beautiful photos of the wedding ceremony and reception.

to pose – to hold one’s body in a particular position, especially so that one can be photographed or painted

* The models are taught to pose in ways that make the clothing hang nicely on their body.

whole point – the main purpose of something; the reason for doing something

* The whole point of submitting a cover letter and resume is to get an interview for the job.

portrait studio – a small building where people go to have their photographs taken

* The portrait studio has a small changing room where people can change their clothing for different types of photographs.

sitting – a period of time when a person or a group of people sit in front of a camera or artist and follow the photographer’s or artist’s instructions regarding how they should hold their body and where they should look

* It was really difficult to get all the young children to look at the camera throughout the sitting.

background – what is seen behind someone or something; the cloth that hangs down behind people who are being photographed or painted

* For the holidays, many people choose this painted background with an image of a Christmas tree and a fireplace.

prop – an object that is held or otherwise interacted with, especially on stage or in a photo session

* The actors use books, cups, and other props while they recite their lines on stage.

to touch up – to improve the appearance of something by making small changes to it

* The photographer’s assistant touched up the photographs by fixing red eyes and erasing poor skin.

to crop – to cut the top, bottom, and/or sides of a digital photograph so that they do not appear in the final, printed image

* After they broke up, Wanda cropped her ex-boyfriend out of her photos.

color-coordinated – with matching (the same) colors or colors that look good together

* At the cafe, all employees, including the servers and bussers, wear color-coordinated shirts with black pants.

generations to come – future generations; people who will be born later, often people in one’s own family

* People will remember this storm for generations to come because of the vast damage it caused.

to cherish – to greatly admire something and place a lot of emotional value on it; to think that something is very important and worthy

* They cherish the memory of the day when their daughter was born.

headshot – a photograph of someone’s head and neck, without including an image of the body

* The company’s website includes headshots of everyone on the management team.

done – completed; created, served, or offered professionally

* Did you pay to have your hair done for the dance, or did you do it yourself?

Comprehension Questions
1. What does Dad mean when he says, “take your places”?
a) He wants everyone to make a reservation for a sitting.
b) He wants everyone to sit or stand where they’re told.
c) He wants everyone to stand farther apart.

2. What is involved in cropping a photo?
a) Changing the filters to improve the colors.
b) Printing the photo onto glossy paper.
c) Removing one or more edges.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to pose

The verb “to pose,” in this podcast, means to hold one’s body in a particular position, especially so that one can be photographed or painted: “The woman posed with her hand on her husband’s shoulder.” The phrase “to pose as (someone)” means to pretend to be someone else, especially to trick someone: “The criminal posed as a police officer and asked to be let into the bank safe.” The phrase “to pose a question” means to ask a question: “Let me pose a question: ‘How would you feel if this became a front-page news story?’” Finally, the phrase “to pose a risk” or “to pose a threat” means to be dangerous, troublesome, or problematic: “Expanding too quickly poses a risk of the company not having enough cash to pay its employees.”

prop

In this podcast, the word “prop” means an object that is held or otherwise interacted with, especially on stage or in a photo session: “The stage hands are responsible for making sure that all costumes and props are in place before the show begins.” A “prop” is also something that holds a larger object up in a particular position: “They used a large book as a prop for the film projector, so that the image was aimed at the screen.” The phrase “to prop (oneself) up” means to lean on something to hold one’s body up: “While trying to read in bed, he propped himself up on pillows to get comfortable.” Finally, the phrase “props to (someone)” is used to congratulate someone in public, telling others about a good thing he or she has done: “Props to Maralynn for staying late to finish that report!”

Culture Note
Occasions for Portraits

With the “widespread” (by many people across a large area) use of digital cameras, people are relying less on professional portraits than they used to, but it is still common for Americans to go to a portrait studio on special occasions.

For example, people often want professional portraits of their children. Many families pay for portraits of their “newborns” (a baby born recently) and then additional portraits on “milestone” (marking an important event) birthdays, such as the three-month, six-month, and one-year “marks” (points in time). Some families also take professional portraits before their children are born, while the woman is still pregnant.

Once children are in school, they have “annual school portraits,” where a photographer comes to the school and takes photos of each student, as well as “class photos” (photos of all the students in one class). The photos appear in the “yearbook” (a book with remembrances of what happened at a particular school in one year) and families can buy copies of those photos, too. When students finish high school, they often purchase “graduation photos” or “senior photos,” where they go to a portrait studio or a photographer takes photos of them at a special outdoor location.

Many business professionals visit a portrait studio to have a professional headshot taken. They might use that photograph on their website, in social media, or on business cards. Other people might be more interested in a “glamour shot,” which is a photograph taken after one has had a “makeover” (an attempt to improve one’s appearance) with a different hairdo, make-up, and clothing.

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - c