Translators are smiley happy people

Search for a random translation company, any translation company. Chances are the company’s homepage will contain a photo of a group of young, happy people in suits grinning from ear to ear and looking very business-savvy, most likely also caught in some group embrace or possibly even in mid-air after jumping, presumably for joy at working in such an excellent company as the one in question. They’ll maybe even have decided to be daring and abandon their ties, instead opting to carry out their business with an open top button. We all know at least one such offending company, for they are legion.

These ‘staff photos’ are in no way representative of a company, its work ethos or even translation in general, and should never be assumed to be. No reasonable person could possibly be duped into believing that these pictures are any more than poorly chosen page-fillers by an unoriginal company. Is it not somewhat self-contradictory for a company to brandish pictures of young employees in their late twenties, whilst underneath boasting that all its translators have decades of professional experience?

This is not to say that a freelance translator’s own personal website should not contain a photograph. Indeed, by all means! The difference in this case, however, is that the freelance translator is attaching a face to a name – one photo of one person in a one-person business. This is the person who will translate for you. But then, who are these people in company staff pictures? Has the management simply rounded up four or five of the most photogenic employees in the company and ordered them to pose for a picture and look happy? There are no captions detailing the members of the photograph or their positions inside the company, thus rendering the entire point of such photographs a moot one.

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