The caption of a photo is an important factor in how the picture is viewed. The importance of the caption is sometimes overlooked because it is so short compared with the story that usually accompanies the photo. But the caption is often the first text that readers look at after the story title and therefore should grab their attention and be informative.
Make sure the reader knows what is going on in the photo. Name all of the important people pictured. Make a connection between the photo and its relevance to the accompanying story. Note the important details that are not obvious at first glance.
Avoid the Obvious
It is important not to state the obvious elements of the picture in the caption. If someone is obviously drinking a soda, it is unnecessary to state that. But it is also important not to make judgments that are not based in fact. Do not make statements, for example, about what someone in the photo is thinking, because it is impossible to know that.
Make sure all of the names of people and places are spelled correctly. Misspellings can detract from the legitimacy of a caption. Try not to use cliched phrases. Avoid using the phrases "is shown, is pictured and looks on." These phrases use the passive voice and do not convey anything about the meaning of a photo. Use the present tense. Avoid using humorous lines when the photo itself is not humorous.
Do not be afraid to make the caption longer if the extra words will add essential information for the reader. Using quotes can be an effective way to link the caption to the image. Make sure everything stated in the caption is accurate. Check the facts with the photographer or anyone else who would know, or some other reliable source.
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images