IELTS Cue Card Sample 457 - Describe a good photo someone took for you

IELTS Speaking Part 2: IELTS Cue Card/ Candidate Task Card.

Describe a good photo someone took for you.

You should say:

  • when and where the photo was taken
  • who took the photo
  • what the photo depicts

and explain why you like this photo.

Sample Answer 1:
Generally, I hate having my photo taken! I like the idea in theory, but the reality is often very brutal and disappointing. I think perhaps I’m just not very photogenic, and being faced with the truth of how I look with my rapidly expanding waistline and less than glamorous appearance is not always a pleasant experience. However, just occasionally, very occasionally, someone will come up with a photo of me that is genuinely ‘good’. It might not be quite accurate to say I ‘like’ such a photo, but I can appreciate it! I’m going to tell you all about one of my favourite photos that someone took of me. I’ll explain when and where the photo was taken, who took it, what the photo depicts and why it is I like it so much – even though it isn’t a flattering image at all.

So, the photo was taken just a couple of months ago. It was taken at an event called the Bamford Sheepdog Trials. If you aren’t from a country where sheep are kept, this might not mean anything to you. I’ll try and explain. In the UK, dogs, usually a particular breed called a collie dog, are often used by shepherds to help them herd sheep. They are very well trained to turn in a particular direction, or lie down still, stalk quietly ahead or run on as fast as they can, depending on the particular whistle or verbal command the shepherd gives. Working with a dog in this way is very skilled. In the summer months in rural areas, it’s not uncommon for local agricultural shows to take place where shepherds and their dogs compete to show off their skills. The shepherd commands his dog to herd a small flock of sheep around a course of obstacles in a big field. They have to pass through gates, separate out one particular sheep and so on. These events often take part in glorious countryside, and it is usually the case that as part of the occasion, as well as the sheepdog trials that are the centrepiece of such events, there will be country stalls, sheep-shearing contests and cake-baking competitions. In addition, there will sometimes be a fell race of some sort. It might be up to six miles cross country – often just straight up the nearest hill and back. It is an opportunity for locals to test their fitness against each other in a good humoured race across the county. So it was, that I came to be taking part in the fell race linked to Bamford sheepdog trials, and that is where the photo was taken. Bamford is a little village in the Derbyshire Peak District, England, close to the city of Sheffield where I currently live. I’d heard about the event and thought it would be fun to go out to the countryside and watch the shepherds working with their dogs and sheep to show off their skills. There was indeed also a ‘little fell race’ taking place. At just £5 to enter and only 5 miles long it sounded manageable – I run a bit, though admittedly I hadn’t really done a fell race as such before. Still, Bamford is a beautiful part of the world and I figured it would be a lovely way to see some of the areas by romping up Win Hill (the highest point nearby) and admiring the view before scampering back to the showground at the end.

The photo was taken by someone I know, who is not a professional photographer, although he is a very, very good amateur one. He often turns out at local running events and specialises in ‘action shots’ of runners in various fell and trail races taking place in the area. His wife was also taking part in the fell run, so he’d come out to support her, and was going to take the opportunity to bring along one of his many super-sophisticated cameras to capture the occasion. There’d be plenty of subject matter to choose from, animals, people, and beautiful scenery – as well as all the runners flying up and down that big hill of course.

As to the photo he took of me… Well, the short answer is that he snapped a portrait of me at the very moment I crossed the finish line of the fell race. In the photo, both my feet are off the ground, I’m punching the air with one hand, and my other is gesturing in some wild celebratory wave of acknowledgement to the crowd as I seem to be rejoicing at completing the race. My head is thrown back in laughter, and you can see my hair (which is longish) swinging around with the movement. It is a fantastic photo. If you saw it in isolation, you would ‘know’ I must be in first place, I am ‘obviously’ joyful because I know I have finished victorious, nothing but first prize could possibly explain my body language! It isn’t a flattering photo because honestly, nobody looks that good when running, and my head angle makes it look as if I have a double chin! (I hope I haven’t really). However, you can’t smile at the photo as it is a great action shot that seems to capture an apparent moment of triumph. The shot is perfectly in focus as well as perfectly timed. It forever records a second of euphoria, communicating all the excitement of the race. You can see my race number on my club vest; the hills in the background, the tape of the finish line in the foreground, spectators applauding me home on either side of the finish funnel. I think there might even be sheep in the far distance, being carefully herded by the sheepdogs as part of the competition. This picture is more than a running portrait of me, it tells the whole story of the event itself. It would make you wish you were there to be part of the occasion I promise you…

So, why do I like this photo? Well, because it makes me laugh. As I said, you would think from the picture that I had ‘obviously’ come first. In fact, I found the fell race ridiculously hard! The route seemed to just go vertically up a mountain, which was more like climbing than running.  Coming down was even worse, far too steep for me to be brave enough to do much more than pick my way down gingerly and slowly – I wasn’t going to be running any of that! Within a few hundred metres of the start, all the other runners had disappeared out of sight. I was way, way behind everyone else, and held onto that place for the next hour and a quarter! For the whole run, I couldn’t even see the other competitors ahead as they had sped away so fast. I’d imagined this would be a ‘fun’ event with lots of ‘have a go’ runners who, like me, just turned up on the day to romp round as best they could. Instead, it seems it is a highly competitive annual event, people had trained all year to take on this mountain challenge. I was woefully ill-prepared. So it is, that this picture, far from showing me returning victorious in first place, is a picture of me coming in last.  Not just last, but last by some minutes.

The reason there are spectators cheering me in, is that the organisers all had to wait to make sure everyone had come back safely from the mountain. I had been out there for so long on my own people had started to gather to look out for me wondering where I was. The crowd wasn’t so much waiting to congratulate me, but about to set off on a search party before it got dark! As for my joyful expression. It is true, I am euphoric, but it isn’t the face of someone shouting in victory, it is me grinning furiously in pure unadulterated relief. I hadn’t died out there, but against the odds, made it home safely! I love the photo because I find it hilarious. If I framed it and had it on my wall and said nothing, visitors to my home would ‘assume’ I must have been the best runner on the day. It would be my choice as to whether or not I corrected them, and explained I was actually the worst… and by a very long day. It isn’t a flattering photo, but objectively it is a good one, so much action, so much emotion and such a sense of occasion. I like it best when I don’t think about the picture as being of me as such, but a memory, and a story captured in perpetuity!

And they say ‘the camera never lies’? I know otherwise.

[Lucy Marris (2016):  Careers Adviser (UK), TEFL teacher (Vietnam)]

Sample Answer 2:
Well, if I have to pick a really good photo that someone took for me I would select a black and white photo that my grandfather took for me when I was only 5 years old.

As I recall, this photo was taken by my grandfather with a camera he newly bought. It was my first day at school and my mother made me ready for the school early in the morning and I was all dressed up. I went to my grandfather’s room to ask for his blessing and he gave me a new fountain pen and a story book. He then took me to the garden and took this photo. It would be probably 1990 and it must have been the winter season.

He told me to stand still and then smile while he would take the photo. This was a very new experience for me. After I saw this picture I noticed that I was smiling in the photo and a part of the garden was visible in it. This is still a very important possession for me. My grandfather is no longer with us and this photo reminds me of his memory and my childhood. This picture represents my early childhood and the very thought of my sweet memory of my grandfather and childhood is something I cherish. For this reason, this is one of the most beautiful photos for me.

If you prepare for this cue card you should be able to answer the following cue cards as well:

  • Describe a photo you really like.
  • Describe one of your favourite photographs.
  • Talk about a photo you have in your room.
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