Captioning is one of the most important skills to learn in photojournalism. It may seem insignificant but studies have shown that the first thing that draws readers in to a story is the caption. Therefore, you should make sure that captions are written effectively and accurately.
Over the last week, we’ve been discussing captioning and what types of information i. It’s important to remember, much like news writing to include the five W’s. “Who, what, when, why and where”. According the Associated Press captions should be no more than two sentences.
Who appears in the photo? The name of the person and the accurate spelling of their name. Also, when identifying more than one individual the names should go from left to right. Never assume a mood or emotion of the person(S) in the photo. When identifying events the caption should stick to the facts but at the same time don’t stick to the obvious of the photo. Some things will be obvious, as an example a person swinging a bat in a baseball game would not be identified as doing such in the caption. The reader already knows certain things happening in the photo. However, descriptors are good such as if several individuals appear in a photo using descriptors to identify things such as what they are wearing, direction of where they are in the photo etc.
Where was this photo taken? A caption is typically two full sentences and first sentence will usually identify the people and the place. Also, the when will occur in the second sentence as well to provide a background or context of the photo. It’s important to be accurate and credible in captioning so readers know they can trust you as a source.
What is the significance of the photo? The caption should set the tone or discuss the activity in the photo. Again, not necessarily the obvious but something that gets the reader’s attention but at the same time is not over or under simplified.
When did the event occur? The date and year should always be included. The most recent photographs are preferred however if the photo is archived it’s important to note that in the caption. The day of the week should be included if the photo was taken in the past two weeks.
Why? Why are you capturing this shot? Why is it important to show the readers? The why should be accurate but never embellished or over the top. Avoid making any presumptive statements and using too many descriptors. Sometimes too many descriptors can create an overkill.