English for Talking about Photos

We use particular language when we talk about photos.
(Less commonly paintings and pictures)
This language can be quite complex, but here we’ll stay more simple.
When we show somebody a photo, we usually describe the photo. To describe means you tell somebody about the photo, giving more details.

To describe a painting, picture or photo as you look at it, you usually use

verbs such as

is, are, doing, holding, eating, smiling, walking, looking, sitting, dancing, working

nouns such as

room, table, house, field, color, light, day, night, mountain, lake, hotel, bar, disco,
weather, fun, love, excitement, situation, nature

prepositions such as

into, next to, on, at, behind, near to, above, below, opposite

adjectives such as

happy, funny, bright, red, soft, friendly, beautiful, sad, scared, shocked, breathtaking, fantastic, magnificent, grand, picturesque, spectacular, tasty, delicious, exciting

adverbs such as

quietly, slowly, carefully, brightly, suddenly, strikingly


We often think of questions when we look at photos.

What is in it?

What can you see?

What else can you see?

There is ……

There are ……

I can see …..

It seems like …..

It looks as if ….

She looks  ……

Who is in it?

Who is that? man, woman, boy, girl, person,
Is this a family/ work group/ sports group/ church group

Are they friends?
Do you know/ recognise him/them?

Do you think they are married?

The man is ……

The people are …..

The building looks ….

This is a …… family, married couple

There is a …..

next to him; on my right side; on her left side, in the middle, in front of

What is happening? Has happened?

It’s a sports event.

There’s been an accident.

Some people are ….

They seem to be …..

It seems that ….
Where is this taking place?
Is it in Australia/ The US/ Japan/ France/ India/ Northern Hemisphere?

Examples, kitchen, school, church, restaurant

When is it happening?

Is it winter or summer?
A recent event or historical?
a famous occasion?

Please remember, you can use most of the language we have been talking about to also describe a painting or a picture.

Exercise Activity

Now, let’s look at a few photos for practice!


Singapore 1




barbecue party 1


Japanese_rugby_ team










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