Language Barriers Need Not Apply

by Robyn Porteen
( January 4th, 2016 )

Male Portrait

Bringing Out The Best In Portraits of People Who Don’t Speak Your Language

     When you are traveling in a country that is not your own, you want to take a few extra steps with your photography. This is especially true if you are going to be photographing people that do not speak your language. The language barrier can be overcome, you’ll get the photos you desire, and take home a bounty of memories with you of your trip if you do these simple things when taking portraits of people.


Bring a Polaroid Camera

This is helpful to take an instant shot to show your subject matter exactly what you want to do. You can also give them the photo as a souvenir. This will instantly break the barriers between the two of you, since most people love to see a photo of themselves. In many lands where photos aren’t commonplace, this is quite fun for people to see, and it will open them up to you, allowing you to take more pictures with your actual professional grade camera.

Israel Portrait

Try To Memorize a Few Key Phrases In Their Language

A phase in their language that is helpful is “may I photograph you?” With the technology available on your smartphone, it’s possible to quickly learn this phrase in a variety of native languages. So no matter where you are in the world, you can easily master a bit of their language to have them understand you better. They will at least appreciate your effort if you try to say a few words in their language.


Have Your Request Written On a Card

If you would rather hand your subjects a card with your request in their language, that will help too. That way you are sure they understand what you mean. All it has to say is that you would like to photograph them in their natural environment. It’s a lot faster than trying to pantomime what you want to do with your camera.
Above all be respectful and kind to the people you want to photograph. Try not to raise your voice in getting them to understand you. Many people make that simple mistake. A smile goes a long way as well in getting what you want in your photographs. It will allow you to transcend the language barrier with just that easy expression.


All photo copyright: Robyn Porteen

From our partners
Add a comment

The History of the Christmas Card

by Robyn Porteen
( December 6th, 2015 )

Santa 1900
A fascination with vintage Christmas cards and an influx of holiday cards to my email and mailbox made me wonder how the Christmas card tradition came to be. I found a surprisingly colorful history of marketing, technology, and art mixing and evolving together.

First Christmas Card

The first Christmas card was commissioned in the UK in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole, who helped introduce the Postal Act of 1840 creating the “Penny Post”, making postage affordable for the average person. Cole, looking for a way to entice the average person to use the post, bred the idea of the Christmas card.

Illustrated by John Callcott Horsley in London, the card had three panels each depicting a different scene. The middle scene; a family drinking wine together, children included, was a mild controversy. Almost half of all greeting cards sent are still Christmas Cards.

Starting off more fanciful with birds and fairies to bring thoughts of spring to loved ones, Christmas cards soon evolved into snowy scenes, Santa Clause, and happy children. In the late 1800s, Germany added a darker dynamic with Krampus cards, Krampuskarten.


Krampus being the Austrian counterpart to Santa Clause; a seductive devil-looking creature with hooves, a long snake-like tongue, and horns bringing coal and beatings to ill-behaved children. Krampuskarten have been widely shared since the beginning and the tradition continues to grow today.

The hugely popular Hallmark brand was born out of Christmas cards and helped spread the tradition in American and continues to be a huge company today. Brothers Joyce and Rollie Hall started the brand as an attempt to market their self-made Christmas cards.

In the late 1940s Joyce helmed an idea to bring grand art by contemporary artists to the average American, commissioning several famous artists of the time to create Christmas cards. Most famously and still widely purchased today are the Norman Rockwell cards.


It was Salvador Dali who made things interesting, as he was known to do. The eccentric Dali demanded $15,000 in cash in advance for the 10 greeting card designs, with no suggestions from Hallmark for the subject or medium, no deadline and no royalties.

Hallmark was not pleased with the beautiful yet unsettling images, only finding two of the ten fit for production. Even still, the two produced caused controversy and public outcry which eventually led Hallmark to pull them.





FamilyPortraitThe 20th century brought new technology to photography making it widely accessible to the average person and a new art medium for Christmas cards. Photography for Christmas cards over the years have ranged from winter scenery, to family portraits by the tree, to cats in Santa hats. The magic of digital photography created an avenue for the now popular DIY photo cards and artistic manipulation to enhance images. Christmas cards have changed but the tradition of sending them is still practiced the world over.


“Santa image, 19th century” by Jenny Nyström (1854-1946), Swedish illustrator 

Salvador Dali – Creative Commons

Krampus – Copyright terriana 

Family Portrait – Copyright Inara Prusakova

From our partners
Add a comment

Ft. Lauderdale is Making a Comeback

by Robyn Porteen
( November 8th, 2015 )

Ft Lauderdale Florida

We all remember Ft. Lauderdale as being the Spring Break destination of the 80’s with the area being left in ruins after droves of college students and other young people swarmed the beaches.

Fast forward to the 2000’s and you will find a beautiful town with nice restaurants and beaches, restoration of some of the classic hotels from the 50’s and 60’s and Art and Culture coming back into the area.

History of Florida

The side streets off of the beach are filling up with artist galleries and fine or casual dining.

Art Scene


The Royal Palms Hotel is one of the Boutique Hotels that has had a beautiful restoration.

Boutique Hotels Royal-Palms


This destination is definitely worth the trip if you are looking for history, culture and relaxation. I think I will be giving Ft. Lauderdale another chance at being the place to vacation in Florida.


From our partners
Add a comment
Contact Us · About · WanderTales · Advertise · WanderBlogs· WanderTips · WanderGear · Newsletter · Book Reviews · Calendar · Media · News · Copyright & Privacy · Site Map