Pitfall Number One in Setting Up as a Destination Wedding Photographer.
You know how it is. You move countries, from Ireland to Portugal. The language changes and so you have to market your wedding photography in dual languages.
What do you do?
You find a translator, that’s what. No, I didn’t go to Google Translate. I went for a native first-language Portuguese and English speaker.
Cue a few hours on Vistaprint’s website tweaking my design. I painstakingly selected my photographs and polished the words. I inputted the English and the translated text. Then, I put my feet up and waited.
A few days later, 800 leaflets marked Emma Jervis Photography landed on my doorstep.
Here’s the English side.
Grand. I’m very happy with this. It’s on recycled paper, too, so my inner eco-warrior is also satisfied.
Let’s flip over the card and look at the Portuguese.
To my mind, it’s a like-for-like translation. Happiness. I cycle into Lagos to drop off my leaflets. I’m buoyant with the feeling of taking destiny in hand.
At this point, I’m happy because I’ve finally started to establish myself as Algarve’s newest yet experienced wedding photographer.
That is until today.
I’ve been taking Advanced Portuguese language lessons at Centro De Línguas de Lagos.
Already I can imagine you saying, “Advanced Portuguese…? Surely you saw the problem on your business card?”
Ah, but no. I didn’t. I wish I had.
At the end of last week’s lesson, I handed my flier and business card to my Portuguese teacher. Off I went, verb forms rolling around in my head.
A few days later, there I am waiting for lesson number 5. In comes my teacher and the first thing she says is, “Your flier, there is a problem with it.”
The first small problem is this: especializamos. It means specializing. Or so I thought. My teacher told me it actually means, “We specialize.” Apparently according to her it makes no sense.
She corrected me. Okay. I’m already looking like a foreigner whose Portuguese is so-so but I can live with this.
My teacher pointed out the second word –
The direct translation is magazine editor. I’m not one of those. I shoot editorial which means features for magazines. In Portuguese, there’s no direct translation. Apparently.
So far, we have we specialize instead of I specialise and I’m telling the world I’m a magazine editor.
We come to the final problem.
In the original English version, the word is superb. I didn’t make this up. It’s part of a genuine client testimonial.
Unfortunately, the Portuguese version of the text, while it does have the meaning superb, it also has a very different meaning.
If I were the worst photographer in the world, or if I didn’t want to market myself well, I’d be almost tempted to put this out there. However, I want to photograph lovely brides and grooms in the Algarve. I really do.
This is why translation number three is causing me to ditch all 800 leaflets.
Look at my teacher’s notes.
Soberba translates to super and… Arrogant!
Cue angry emoji face crying and frowning.
I can’t say that anyone who knows me would ever call me arrogant… For anyone who does not know me, though… Hmm. I don’t want to risk it.
Now I have this dilemma: what do I do with 800 postcards? Do I share how arrogant and up-myself I am with people in the Algarve?
I’m asking because I don’t know. I bought these on recycled paper. I’m the kind of girl who takes her dogs for a walk and picks up a ton of plastic waste on my way. There’s no way I can be responsible for this waste!
What have I learned in my first three months of being here? Test out translations on a few native speakers, even an expert translator or two, before you go to print. Of course language and words are used in context. So ‘Superba’ in the context is correct, it is superb. Language is tricky and fluid and trying to find the right words are hard, even in my own native language, let alone my adopted one!
And, of course, I need to share this because I have leaflets dotted around the Algarve that promote me as an arrogant photographer.
What should I do?