Real Exam English - B2, C1, C2

S03 - 3 Photos

October 19, 2021 Real Exam English Season 3 Episode 3
Real Exam English - B2, C1, C2
S03 - 3 Photos
Show Notes Transcript

Native English speakers answer questions about photos from previous B2, C1, C2 and IELTS  exam papers.

You will hear loads of top adjectives, some lovely phrasal verbs and superb collocations. Also, for the first time, you can hear people speculating about photographs. You will hear speakers from England, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland so a wide variety of accents for you, as usual. 

Link for today's photo:

For classes or transcripts go to

Music: Wholesome by Kevin MacLeod

Thanks to all of the contributors, including Ian from the We Dig Music podcast, Konner from The Blunt Report podcast(, Rosemary, David, Mary Alice, Ofordi and Ursula.

Support the show

Hello and welcome to Real Exam English. Today’s podcast is about photos. Never before have photos and photography been so popular, and therefore it’s a topic that frequently comes up in English exams. Today you are going to here lots of photography vocabulary, some amazing adjectives and expressions and for the first time ever on the Real Exam English podcast you can hear people speculating about photographs, with lots of super expressions.


We have a great mix of accents for you today, so let’s crack on with the questions.


Do you prefer to take photos of People or places? 

I Much prefer taking photos of landscapes or buildings Because I find it easier. Often I will take a photo of someone and I don't feel like I've captured Their personality in a way, in the way that I wanted to, and I find that quite frustrating. When I do take a photo of someone and I feel like I've captured what they were like in that moment, it's very satisfying and very gratifying. But it is more more challenging to me, Coming to me. So I tend not to do it as much.


Ok, so we’re just going to focus on the adjectives here. We heard frustrating, satisfying, gratifying and challenging. These are super examples of how to upgrade your adjectives in your writings or when speaking. For example, instead of hard or difficult say challenging or instead of annoying say frustrating. Satisfying and gratifying kind of mean the same thing, you could also say rewarding. These are really useful synonyms to use when answering questions about why you learn English, or working to achieve your goals or maybe the benefits of particular types of jobs. So, make a note of these and try to put them into practice. 


What is the best way to remember places you´ve visited: taking photos or buying souvenirs?

Yeah, I've been to 27 countries, so I have a lot of photos.

Why is taking photos better?

Because they they get dusty and if you move somewhere else, you can't necessarily take them with you. So you know especially big souvenirs and things. I found that out when I first started traveling. I was buying souvenirs and then had to leave them behind and my next country I was living in or something so it's better to take photos. if I buy souvenirs I just buy small ones that I can take with me.

How has technology influenced the way people take photos?

Well, I mean most people now take photos on their mobile phone rather than on cameras, and they can instantly put them onto their Facebook or whatsapp and and that type of thing. Whereas before you know you always had to lug around a camera and.

Before that you got the films developed and then you know you had to download it onto your laptop or different things like that. So phone photography is better if you've got the space on your phone.


So, in the first answer I had to ask the speaker to expand on why she thought taking photos is better. This shouldn´t happen in a  higher level English exam. You should always try to develop your answer, giving explanations and examples if possible. Remember you are trying to show off all the lovely English you know and if you give a ten-word answer then you are not taking your opportunity very well. 

In the second answer, which was a perfect length by the way, we heard this phrasal verb, to lug around a camera. To lug around means to carry something heavy with you, like after shopping you might have to lug the shopping bags around town with you. We also heard the super-useful connector “whereas”, this is a great word to know for comparing two different things. 


do you like it when people take photos of you? 

Easily I can answer this one by saying no. I absolutely hate it when people take photos of me for some. 

For some reason, I mean, I don't think I'm an unattractive person, but for some reason every photo I've ever seen of myself, I've looked just hideous. I just look horrible and I don't know. I don't know if that's Because I have a high expectation of myself or I just generally look horrible in photos. Or I don't know what it is, but for that reason it just makes me feel so uncomfortable and self conscious when people when people take photos of me. 


do you prefer to take pictures of people or places and why? 

I like both for sure, but if I had to choose one, I would say places because. Photos for me aren't necessarily about remembering myself there. I don't enjoy having a photo of me in front of a site or something like that. It doesn't. It doesn't evoke very strong feelings for me. I prefer places a you know, a landscape of something that's very familiar to me and for example I used to live in Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, and I have a fantastic picture of the landscape of the City of Edinburgh. And when I look at this photo really triggers some emotional. 

Feelings to me the colors are wet. The styles of the buildings, things like that. So for me I want a photo of places to try to transport me back to that place when I look at it in the future. 


Some awesome adjectives here from Australia. We heard the speaker talking about how bad he feels he looks in photos and he used three different adjectives, which as you should be aware by now is perfect for an exam answer. So those adjectives were unattractive, horrible and hideous, which really are quite strong ways to describe how unappealing something is. Then we heard that he feels uncomfortable and self-conscious too, so lots of superb vocabulary, pretty negative it must be said, but superb all the same. 

In the second answer we had two lovely collocations with the word feelings. Firstly, to evoke strong feelings and secondly, to trigger some emotional feelings. These are exactly the kind of high-level collocations that examiners love.


Ok then, so now it´s time for our first look at some photography on the Real Exam English podcast. We have 4 different people speculating about the same photo. This language is really important in many English exams, as very often you are required to speak about what you think you can see in a photo. The examiners will likely be listening out for your language of speculation so make sure to use a variety of expressions, if you can. So the photo for today’s episode is hopefully on the artwork of your podcast app for this episode, additionally you can find a link for it in the show notes, and it´s on the blog on the Real Exam English website. OK then here we go.

In the background, looks like it might be an early morning sort of of.Dawn type. You know when maybe the fish are being brought in. Uhm, as opposed to night, but it could be night, but it definitely looks like that, UM. And almost, you know I don't know.


Oh so 2 ladies in from Collecting the catch, first lady looks Delighted, she looks like it was a great success.The second lady doesn’t look as impressed. She looks maybe a bit a bit more tired.


Going through these photos now, first one sees 2 ladies carrying a pole with some fishing in between them. Uhm, are they related? I don't know they look Like maybe they could be. the one at the front,Really super happy. The one at the back who's just staring at the back of her head Looks like she's not having the funnest of times. Clearly they're at work.


Looks like they have better fishing out there than we do in Connecticut. So yeah, it looks like a like a third world country. Just judging by the boats maybe I don't know Indonesia or something, probably not Indonesia. I don't think the women are that happy there. That's just one of my stereotypes, so maybe the Philippines. And yeah, it looks like they had a nice catch and they're really happy to Bring it back to land and they're probably gonna head out to the market to sell it.


Some fantastic speculation there. We heard lots of look and looks like. Remember look is followed by an adjective, as in they look happy, while looks like is followed by a noun, for instance, it looks like a third world country, or by a sentence, such as it looks like it might be early morning. Other expressions we heard were I guess, it could be, it might be, I don´t think, clearly, probably and then we had this rather handy one, judging by the boats. If you are asked about how you think the people in a photo feel it’s great to use this one, judging by the expression on their face, I’d say they are sad.

Ok, some brilliant speculation there, now back to our regular questions. 


What sort of photos to you like to keep?

Oh uhm. What kind of photos do I like to keep?

I think ones that really, I mean Ones that the that that spark memories in me of times had and of people that I I you know I love and I care about but also actually landscape photos and and and photos Of sort of Ornaments or statues of faraway places, you know something exotic that that that I think looks aesthetically pleasing or somewhere I've been on holiday and I've had a great time.

Should there be any restrictions regarding photographs on the internet?

Yeah, I I I I would say there Should be and The reason I say this is because I don't think it's right to put photos up of people If you haven't got their consent. I'm thinking particularly revenge porn photos because that's why I'm dating somebody, you know…Privacy and it's also mean and it's malicious in its intent.


There was a lovely expression in the first answer, to spark memories, which means to trigger or cause the recollection of memories. We heard about revenge porn which is when people put photos or videos of their ex-partners on the internet and we heard a phrasal verb which was to put photos up of people on the internet, which means to upload them to a website or social media platform. 


Do you like it when people take photos of you?

No, I don’t. No.

I don't mind them taking photo, I just don´t want to see the photo. I wouldn't have any versions of myself really around the house. I’d have loads of the kids.

But we were at house for dinner party 1 evening and we went in and the couple had a full, a full wallsized picture of the two of them in the kitchen. I Couldn't be looking at myself. God no. I I don't mind them taking it, though I don't really…. I wouldn't have any interest in looking at them. It's a bit narcissistic, isn't it?


Has the purpose of taking photographs changed nowadays?

Yeah for sure.'cause I think when you had the cameras and you you were kind of taking.

A photo you didn't see it till you went to the shop and got your film developed. You would probably only take it. You you were kind of more sparing with them. You you know you might just take it over a nice holiday moment or something whereas now we're just people Constantly taking them. It's just constant, isn't it? You kind of feel like people are nearly missing what's actually going on around them, 'cause they're so busy filming and taking photos. And it's more to show off as well to everyone. It just doesn't, you know Kind of paint a different picture of your life. Kind of went through a few nice snaps rather than actual real life.


Some old school vocabulary here, to get your film developed, which is what you had to do before digital cameras became the norm, bringing your film to a special shop to get your images printed. We heard about taking some nice snaps, which is a colloquial way of saying photos and we heard this phrasal verb to show off, meaning to boast about something or show everyone how great you are, in an annoying way. Like, I was showing off my new car to my friends when I ended up crashing it into a wall!


Ok guys, hopefully you got lots of cool new language today that you can show off to your English-speaking friends, your teacher, or even better your examiner! If you like the podcast it would be great if you can like and subscribe on whatever podcast provider you use. We’ll be back next time with some more analysis for you on a brand-new topic. Thanks so much for listening, Trevor!