Monday, 5 November 2012

a little cultural moment and some smiles

I have been taking photographs, headshots, of the congregation of the church I go to, to make a gallery for the benefit of us all.  Just a little project of my own.  The congregation is British, a lot of them international civil servants like me, and it is also African, a lot of them Nigerian, there are some French, some Pakistani Christians, who are anglophone, a few north Americans (including the priest in charge, who is Canadian of Armenian descent) and some Malgache (from Madagascar), who are francophone.  I have noticed some little cultural differences in people's responses to being asked if I can take their picture.  They are broadly these:
African men do not demur from being photographed, and smile broadly and openly for the camera.  African women do too.  Though every one of the African women, no exceptions, has asked me to show them the picture on my camera as soon as I have taken it.  No-one else has asked.  British men, without exception, make a jocular remark of some kind "Are you getting my best side?" that kind of thing.  British women, without exception and regardless of age, are self-deprecating, "I'm not photogenic". "My hair's bad today", that sort of thing.  None of the Africans, or the French, or the north Americans, says anything like that.  North Americans and French are not very likely to smile in photographs.  The British do, and the Africans do.  I have yet to take any pictures of Malgache people.  Will let you know if there are issues.

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