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Off topic: Photos in agency websites
Thread poster: Jessica Noyes

Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:22
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jan 16, 2017

I wonder why translation agency websites use so many stock photos. They rarely show true images of their actual personnel. It's as if the agencies live in a world peopled only by slim, smiling, and beautiful people. Other websites---for estate agents, hospitals, insurance salespeople, and the like---display pictures of the actual individuals involved in the enterprise, complete with names and bio. What are the agencies trying to hide?

 

Marlon Aviz
Brazil
Local time: 13:22
English to Portuguese
They wanna look good Jan 17, 2017

Its not what they are trying to hide, its what they are trying to show.

Most of these business don't care about looking realistic, they care about looking good.

They want to be seem as a professional business that does top-quality work with a smile in the face. Happy and beautiful people are more attractive to the general public, so that creates more customer traffic for their business. Whether their employees actually look and behave like that or not is somethin
... See more
Its not what they are trying to hide, its what they are trying to show.

Most of these business don't care about looking realistic, they care about looking good.

They want to be seem as a professional business that does top-quality work with a smile in the face. Happy and beautiful people are more attractive to the general public, so that creates more customer traffic for their business. Whether their employees actually look and behave like that or not is something to be researched.
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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:22
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Professional smilers Jan 17, 2017

Some people smile and show their beautiful selves off for a living. That gorgeous Armani-clad executive gal gleefully pointing to a globe of the world (now why would she be doing that? what is it with those globes? - better not ask) with the beaming approval of the CEO beside her with his Savile Row suit, square clean-shaven jaw and slightly greying sideboards? They're just actors, and what they're hiding might be the nasty reality of the real people at the company, hard-nosed folk unused to sm... See more
Some people smile and show their beautiful selves off for a living. That gorgeous Armani-clad executive gal gleefully pointing to a globe of the world (now why would she be doing that? what is it with those globes? - better not ask) with the beaming approval of the CEO beside her with his Savile Row suit, square clean-shaven jaw and slightly greying sideboards? They're just actors, and what they're hiding might be the nasty reality of the real people at the company, hard-nosed folk unused to smiling. There's a site somewhere of CEOs unused to smiling, who merely bare their teeth in insincere grins for the punters out there. But then, even actors get replaced by other actors for close-ups when their teeth or bums or whatever aren't quite right for the job (apparently they arranged for another more shapely bottom to be wheeled in as Jennifer Aniston's for her stripper turn in We're the Millers).Collapse


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:22
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Ethnic diversity Jan 17, 2017

There's usually a broad range of ethnic types in these photographs, too. One agency I know even shows their faces in the colours of their national flags which is a bit disconcerting.

 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:22
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Laughable Jan 17, 2017

Those stock photos are laughable, and you can spot them immediately. Any time I see an agency, or a translator, using a stock photo on the front page of their website, I immediately conclude that this is a home/office operation run from a table in the back bedroom of a "ranchburger" house in the remote outskirts of a large American city, or a run-down terraced house in a side-street in some out-of-the-way place in England. Or a 25th floor apt in Hong Kong. I sometimes amuse myself by looking for... See more
Those stock photos are laughable, and you can spot them immediately. Any time I see an agency, or a translator, using a stock photo on the front page of their website, I immediately conclude that this is a home/office operation run from a table in the back bedroom of a "ranchburger" house in the remote outskirts of a large American city, or a run-down terraced house in a side-street in some out-of-the-way place in England. Or a 25th floor apt in Hong Kong. I sometimes amuse myself by looking for the postal address and then finding the exact place, using Google Earth. Some of these agencies operate in the strangest places. The use of stock photographs by an agency is an indicator that this is a one-horse operation.

[Edited at 2017-01-17 09:59 GMT]
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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:22
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
I've done that ... Jan 17, 2017

... on Google Earth too, and it can be a real hoot. Choice locations for "International Translations Inc." with skips showing rusty old fridges and mattresses poking out. "Floor Ten, Suite Three", sure it is, but the block looks like that place where Delboy and Wodney lived with Grandad. And wasn't the name of their company on the side of the van something like "Trotter International - Paris - New York - Peckham"?

 

Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:22
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thrifty Jan 17, 2017

Well, in the best case scenario, those working out of trailers and walk-up fifth floor apartments are saving so much on overhead that they can afford to pay higher rates to translators.

 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:22
German to English
High staff turnover Jan 17, 2017

A few larger Detroit-area agencies have used stock photos for years. My theory is that many agencies have such high staff turnover that updating web pages with images of the fresh faces would be prohibitively expensive when taking into account professional photography (and post-processing to airbrush out scars, piercings and tattoos), as well as web site maintenance.

 

Michal Fabian  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 10:22
Member (2012)
Dutch to Slovak
+ ...
Also a must... Jan 17, 2017

... is a token black guy and an Asian lady. Gotta love agencies who say "we love diversity as long as it still means white majority!"

To think I spent five years at university and not once did I sit in the park in front of the faculty with my multicultural group of friends


 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:22
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
That's ... Jan 17, 2017

... because nobody offered you €€€€€ to do it, Michal, and immortalise all that ethnic bonhomie. And, professional or not, they can't use your mugshot with no permish. Then again, in practice they can, and you can waste your life trying to sue them.

 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:22
Member (2018)
French to English
staff turnover Jan 17, 2017

I used to work at a top-notch agency which then got bought out by some sharks. They organised a photo shoot at the annual meeting, but by the time they got round to putting the photos on the website, half the staff had left. So guess what they ended up putting instead?

 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:22
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Intentionally deceiving? Jan 17, 2017

Many agencies claiming to manage thousands of freelance translators and being top-notch are in reality one-or-two-person joints running from some shared office in a basement or from the comfort of a bedroom corner.

Showing who they are and where they work from would look terrible, so they probably feel that stock photos are the way to go to deceive an undiscerning audience.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:22
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
The diversity that comes in agency stock photos Jan 17, 2017

On top of the appalling stock photos showing happy ethnic diversity, I am sure that stock photos will soon show an additional level of diversity: straight team members, LGBT team members, team members bearing obvious markers of belonging to different religions, maybe sprinkle it with a Rastafarian, a hipster, a skater... But the result will be equally appalling, I reckon.

 

Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:22
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good to see some rationales Jan 18, 2017

Thanks for everyone's take on this little aspect of the translators' world. While it had occurred to me that the agencies are seeking to make themselves look more professional/glamorous, I am impressed by the theory that rapid staff turnover makes using actual photos pretty much impossible, especially for low-budget outfits. And it makes sense as well that it's cheaper to buy stock photos than have them professionally taken. Still, I'd like to see some photos of the founders, owners, and manager... See more
Thanks for everyone's take on this little aspect of the translators' world. While it had occurred to me that the agencies are seeking to make themselves look more professional/glamorous, I am impressed by the theory that rapid staff turnover makes using actual photos pretty much impossible, especially for low-budget outfits. And it makes sense as well that it's cheaper to buy stock photos than have them professionally taken. Still, I'd like to see some photos of the founders, owners, and managers, and get an idea of whom I might be working with.Collapse


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:22
Member (2018)
French to English
not a theory Jan 18, 2017

Jessica Noyes wrote:

Thanks for everyone's take on this little aspect of the translators' world. While it had occurred to me that the agencies are seeking to make themselves look more professional/glamorous, I am impressed by the theory that rapid staff turnover makes using actual photos pretty much impossible, especially for low-budget outfits. And it makes sense as well that it's cheaper to buy stock photos than have them professionally taken. Still, I'd like to see some photos of the founders, owners, and managers, and get an idea of whom I might be working with.


In my case it wasn't a theory, it actually happened.

There is another point: in France at least, you need the employee's permission to put their photo on Internet. I would never have agreed. Well perhaps before the buy-out, in that I was proud of the work I did there and proud of working for a company with a very strong work ethic and emphasis on quality.
Once the sharks had bought us out, this was no longer the case so I'm glad I hadn't signed away permission. I have no idea whether the permission would have automatically been transferred to the buyers so things could have turned ugly. Well they did later anyway but that's another story.


 
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