Salvadorans like to point at things in photographs

Okay, the title of this post may be untrue. I don’t know if all Latin Americans point at things in photos, or all Salvadorans, or if it’s just my husband’s family. All I know is that my gringo family does not point at things in photos and Carlos’s family does.

See this photo of Carlos? He’s not pointing – he’s laughing, but he was pointing only moments before. (You’ll have to take my word for it.)

You see, many years ago we were at a beach house in North Carolina on vacation with my family. Once we unpacked and settled in I told Carlos, “Go over there by that fish picture so I can take your photo.” Carlos dutifully walked over to the fish picture, turned around and then smiling nicely for the camera, he pointed at the fish picture. I took the camera down from my face and squinted at him.

“What are you doing?” I asked.
“You said stand here with the fish picture.”
“Um, yeah, but I didn’t say point at it… weirdo.”

I started laughing which made Carlos start laughing – that’s why I have a photo of him laughing and not pointing. Years later I would realize, Carlos wasn’t a weirdo – he was Salvadoran – and Salvadorans point at things in photos – at least that’s what I’ve come to believe.

I present to you, as evidence, a few photos from our family photo albums. (Photos have been cropped to protect the identity of my in-laws.)

A Tío stands on the diving board and points at my parents' pool.
Suegra points to a very large pumpkin.
A Tío points to a shark at the aquarium.
Nieces point to some pottery they made.
Suegra points to a flower.
A Tía points to El Salvador on a map. (Honestly, this one is my fault. I told her to do it. It must be contagious for me to have suggested it.)

Dios Santo, not the children…

Proof that my children are 1/2 Salvadoran. I found this photo of my oldest son when he was about 4 years old, which I didn't even realize existed. Apparently the pointing thing is passed down through the DNA from the father's side.


  1. Tracy,

    This is pretty freaking funny. And I love that your son is subconsciously following with genetic calling by pointing too.

    I don’t this is a Latin American thing (at least, I don’t think it’s true in Colombia).

    The thing Colombians seem to do is stand stiff like boards, no smile, next to as many landmarks as possible. I have a cousin who has traveled all over the world and what he has to show for it are hundreds upon hundreds of pictures of him standing in downtown Tokyo, next to the Eiffel Tower, in Times Square, etc, looking stiff and miserable (when in reality, I know he had a great time). A quick look on Facebook at photos of my Colombian friends validates the aforementioned assertion.


  2. Its not a gringo thing, but a “your dad” thing . . . he wears that same shirt in every vacation picture. It looks like I’m Photoshopping into our adventures! “Look, here’s Dad at the pyramids!”

  3. OK, I consider myself a 100000% Salvadoran. As Salvadoran as the pupusas or Izalco volcano and have NEVER pointed at something when posing for a photo. I guess is another “Lopez” thing. But…. just for you, I will have someone take a picture of me pointing at something!

    • Claudia, this is quite true. I spent the day with you, your husband and your son in DC and not one of you pointed at one single thing when we took photos together. LOL.

      So my theory is not true – it isn’t Salvadorans – it’s just the insane family I married into. (again)


  4. This is the first time I’ve seen this trait exhibited in an entire family. Too freaking funny. Imagine if you dug in the “archives” when you get down south and discover black and white photos with people doing the same thing. *LMAO*

  5. My inlaws just look as seriously pissed off as possible in pics. It has come to the point where I have to “catch” them laughing, snap the pic, and then refuse to delete it no matter the threat just to have a smiling picture!! Smiling must be an American thing???

    • I think the serious/not smiling thing is an old-fashioned thing? … Look at photos of your great-grandparents – serious, right?

      The reason for that was because shutter exposure was so long and so people had to hold really still >

      So maybe some people in Latin America, (or even other parts of the world as well), just grew up seeing these serious images and just continued not smiling even when technology improved?

  6. Hello Tracy,

    This is a funny theory. I think is just a coincidence; at least down in Uruguay and Argentina we don’t do it. Nevertheless, a cultural habit at the time of taking pictures is not unheard: Asians love to do the “V” with their fingers. Maybe the Salvadoran thing to do is pointing… Funny!

  7. Oh Tracy, this made me laugh so hard!! And I had a very frustrating day. Thank you so much for this laugh!! Why do we all do the things we do?! No hacemos sentido por nada!! :)

  8. Que risa!!! jajaja!!! The pics are hilarious amiga!
    In Mexico people don´t point at things (I don´t think), but instead everyone flashes out their best “super model” poses, and it drives me crazy! Can´t people just get together and smile naturally anymore? :D

  9. No, it’s not just your in-laws. Mine are Salvadoran and tbey do it too. But my suegra has her own take on it; she stands next to sombody’s new car, new baby, or diploma, whatever, and strikes a dramatic kind of retro tv game-show presenter’s pose; both hands extended palm up, one foot pointed out behind her. No way is she going to just stand there and smile!

Note: You are not required to sign in to leave a comment. Please feel free to leave the email and/or website fields blank for an easier commenting experience.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.