Rules for Writing Captions Yes, there are even rules for these!
A photojournalist approach to writing your caption by Rob-Meyers, Jan 8, 2007, 3:07:06 AM Every now and then, looking at photojournalism entries, we come across a gem worthy of National Geographic Society. However, it can get very disappointing when there is nothing relative in the photographer’s notes. No information except for things like "this person in this place." That’s just not enough information. Captions are an important part of photojournalism. They report what may be ambiguous in the photograph. A picture (submitted as photojournalism) of a boy drinking from a river doesn't tell why the boy is drinking from a river, or from what river he is drinking. From a journalistic perspective, these details are very important. With well done captions, someone will be able to pull a photo in 50 or even a hundred years from now and allow that person to know everything there is to know about what is going on in the photograph. Captions should contain what is commonly labeled "The Five W's"
Essential Questions? WHO? Photojournalism is documentation. We need to know who is in the photo, be it an alias or their real name. When there are 5 or more people in a photo, listing everyone’s name is not a necessity. You can go with a broad label, such as Students of College/University or Anti-war protesters. Even if there are no people in the photo, the main subject in the photo should be listed. WHAT? The activity going on in the photo should also be written down, as it may not always be obvious what is going on, or what said activity is called.
MORE Essential Questions? WHERE? The location: it's not always clear where the subject is, so this blurb should be very detailed, even to the point of redundancy. Examples: ...at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), located in Los Angeles, California. --or-- Starbucks Coffee, located on the corner of Washington and Overland Ave, in Culver City, California, a sub-city of Los Angeles. WHEN? Simply the date. Different publications require different formats. It's good practice to try and include the day of the week, but it’s not critical. If it is a holiday, the holiday can be added: New Year's Eve. Sunday, December 31, 2006. WHY? Basically, why someone is doing what they are doing. This can also include some background information on what’s being covered. This is usually included in what’s published below a photo in a magazine or newspaper.
The caption as a whole need not be a linguistic treasure. Just the facts.Every publication in a new industry requires photographs with such detailed captions. Photojournalism is about making a record. Sensei Peter Steeves (pictured left) and Mark Franco (pictured right) demonstrate a Kata for the Dojo's students during a training session at the Jinenkan Martial Arts Dojo, located in Los Angeles, California, on April 26, 2006.
Firefighters of the Los Angeles Fire Department, battling a blaze in a warehouse located near the intersection of Lincoln and Washington in Venice, California, on October 6, 2005. Streets in the surrounding neighborhood became flooded from excess water. Two firefighters were injured from burns and heat-related problems while attempting to contain the fire.
Two protesters (names undisclosed) declare George W. Bush "Worst President ever" while marching down Hollywood Blvd. after an anti-war protest marking the 3rd Anniversary of the U.S. Invasion of Iraq. The protest took place near Hollywood Blvd. and Vine Street, in Los Angeles, California, on March 18, 2006.
Now, YOU try. • Pick a picture from the FOUR on the next slide. • Because you probably didn’t TAKE the picture, you will be given creative license to tell the story from your own perspective. (In other words, you get to make it up. Don’t fall in love with this idea, as it’s one of the few opportunities I’ll allow you to do this.) • Please make sure that your caption follows all caption-writing guidelines.