How to Describe a Photo (IELTS Speaking)

In the IELTS Speaking Exam, you may be given the opportunity to talk about a photo. This is most likely to happen in part 2, and it will probably be expressed like this:

Describe one of your favourite photographs.

You should say:

  • When the photograph was taken
  • What it looks like
  • What significant memory you have regarding this photograph

and explain why it is one of your favourite photographs.

Using Photography Vocabulary in IELTS

So how do you talk about photos? Well, I made a helpful guide to photography vocabulary for IELTS to help you:

So how can you use this vocabulary to answer the above question? Here’s a sample answer: 

I take a lot of photos so it’s hard for me to pick just one, but if I had to I would choose a photo of a hippo in a lake. Last year I went on holiday to South Africa for the winter, and I visited a place called St. Lucia. They have a lot of amazing wildlife in South Africa and in St. Lucia there are many crocodiles and hippos. I was overwhelmed when I saw them, and for several days I walked around taking photos of these amazing creatures.

One day, I got the courage to walk right into the middle of a sand bar and shoot some photos as the sun was setting over the lake. The result was a series of beautiful red and orange-tinged shots with a variety of wildlife dotting the landscape. In one photo, however, a huge hippo came out of the water and opened its mouth really wide! I didn’t even realize until I got home what happened, but the whole experience stuck in my mind. The photo is now printed and framed on my wall so that I never forget the feeling of being among such incredible animals in a place of such natural beauty.

Other Possible Photo Questions for IELTS Speaking

If you were asked to describe a favourite photo or a special photo for IELTS Speaking Part 2, then you might be given some of the following questions as a follow-up:

  • What do you think about ‘Photography’ as a career?
  • What makes a good photograph?
  • How often do you take photographs?
  • What are the improvements latest technologies has brought in photography

Also, if you do really enjoy photography, you might use that in Part 1 as a response to questions about hobbies or activities you do in your free time. If you get asked what you do with your friends, you might reply that you take selfies. 🙂 I’m sure the examiner will be impressed with your colloquial vocabulary.

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Author: David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and the founder/editor of Beatdom literary journal. He lives and works in rural China, and loves to travel.

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