Photojournalism is all about having accuracy, being captivating, and providing information. Taking great photographs is only half of the equation. If someone comes across your photograph or video and wants to learn more about it, wouldn’t it be helpful to provide a caption that is as great as your content? A photo without a caption is just another photo, but a photo with an awesome caption can potentially earn you cash, get you published, or even get you recognized. Don’t let your photos get passed over! Here, we’ll give you some tips to create captivating captions in order to give your content the credit it deserves.
#1 Learning The Basics…
1. Facts and Accuracy: Your credibility, or even your reputation as a photographer or photojournalist depends on your accuracy and your ability to provide factual information. Especially when you are providing newsworthy content accuracy is everything! It is very important to provide accurate dates, locations, and the proper names of subjects or events. Don’t risk the chance of having your awesome content looked over because of inaccurate information. Take the time- check the facts!
- Always remember- lack of information is better than false information. When in doubt, leave it out!
2. Location, Location, Location: You hear us here at SellNews use this word a lot. Location is very important in the world of news. Describing what is obvious in a photo is great because it tells a story, however, to gain credibility and to ever have a chance of your photos being on the news, purchased, or even recognized you will need to provide a location. Even if you take a photo of something as obvious as the White House, never assume your viewing will know where it was taken. Always provide an accurate location of where it was captured.
- It’s always a good idea to be as detailed as possible. If possible, provide the event name, street name, city, and state.
3. Cut Out the Filler Words: Typically, you are only allotted a certain amount of characters when typing your caption, so make it count! Words like ‘a’ or ‘the’ aren’t crucial especially when space in limited. “Instead of saying “A March on Washington” you can just as effectively say “March on Washington.”
- This may not seem like a huge change, however, if your caption will be long and detailed every character will count.
4. Name the Important People: Unless they want to remain anonymous, make sure you say who is in the photo. Are you at a concert? If so, who is that on stage? Or, are you at a protest and listening to a famous actress give a speech? If so, who is she? Naming important individuals will get your photos recognized. “Justin Timberlake playing golf in California” is much better that “Famous singer golfing” think about it…
- For large groups of people make sure you address them as they are such as protesters, bystanders, concertgoers, etc.
- Always ensure proper spelling of names.
5. Present Tense vs. Past Tense: Unless it is a historical photo, it is always best to make sure readers of your captions are under the assumption this event is taking place right now. Breaking news and newsworthy content always have a sense of urgency, immediately, and a sense of “right now.” Your content will probably be more appealing if people get the idea that it is happening now opposed to last week.
6. Be Sensitive About Difficult Topics: Humor is great! Humor is captivating and creates an emotional response from readers, however, in the event of a serious or tragic newsworthy topic it is best to avoid humor. Be aware and sensitive to those breaking news stories that are so funny.
7. Always Give Credit Where Credit is Due: Working on a big project with multiple photographers? Odds are they worked just as hard and long as you did, so make you you mention them as well. Or, if you are using a photo you borrowed from a source make sure you cite the source where it originated from.
#2 Storytelling With Your Captions…
1. Length! Unless you are limited by the number of characters you are allowed in a single caption, don’t worry to much about the length. Some stories and photos may be complicated, so it is always best to give too much information about an important event opposed to not enough information.
- Although it may be lengthy, always make sure you are giving a clear consistent message of only the most important information.
2. Teach the Readers Something new: As much as everyone likes to think they are a “know-it-all,” everyone and everything has something to teach us. Odds are if you went to a cool festival or event that not everyone knows the reason behind it. Take this into consideration when creating your caption. Are you at a cool festival? Explain to readers what the purpose/why this festival takes place! Give readers information that makes them want to research more on the topic. Use your platform to inform.
3. Informational vs. Judgmental: When describing your content you should never make assumptions, be critical, or judgmental. Photojournalism is all about being informative on events, not providing a biased opinion based on your own events. Unless it is an interview where you personally talked to them, always remain neutral and informative.
- Present facts, not opinions.
4. Proper Language and Grammar: Slang, cliches, or short hand writing isn’t the best way to tell a story. Remember, your audience may be diverse and your slang may not be interpreted the same by everybody. Using basic language across your content will ensure a clear understanding from everyone. Also, try to avoid over complicating a story if not necessary.
5. Punctuation: Remember to treat your caption like you are telling a story. Proper punctuation is essential to a clear understanding.
- Punctuation in titles may vary, however, proper punctuation in the caption/description is necessary.
#3 Avoiding Errors…
1. Keep It Simple, Not Fancy: If you write in such a style using too many fancy words, or trying to be witty and clever in every sentence you may come across as arrogant. Don’t get too complicated. Telling a simple story regarding your content is just fine and will come across to readers perfectly if you remain clear and simplistic.
- The reader of your captions should be your main priority when trying to tell your story.
2. Be Organized: Don’t allow your work (captions) to be sloppy. There are a lot of factors riding on your credibility, so don’t let sloppiness be one of those factors that override your talent and potential. You could be the best photographer in the world, but if you aren’t organized and present your work in a sloppy way it may come across like you just don’t care, or that you aren’t finding it important enough to dedicate the proper time to.
- Double, triple, even quadruple check your work! Whatever it takes to ensure proper captions and facts. Take pride in your work- people will notice.
3. Journalism = Facts: Always keep in mind that as a journalist, or photojournalist that the work you publish into the world will usually be considered factual information to your audience. Check your facts, put the time in, and show your best every time. Your audience trusts in you that what you are telling them is researched, certain, and has been fact-checked by you.
- Take the time as a professional to make sure you are feeding your audience the truth. False information can spread quickly!
Creating Captivating Captions
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