Caption writing


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Created by Liz Walsh, MJE

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  • Photographers should have investigative skills and should be writing or recording information about what they are shooting. Reporters should accompany photographers on assignment to get background information on all pictures and their surrounding events.
  • To make sure captions are accurate, you need to confirm the information given by photographer or reporter with the actual person in the picture Not just the who and doing what, but the why and how as well as the when and where
  • Kids and adults alike will give you much better material if you make them feel comfortable- tell them you just want to talk to them for a few minutes. Then remember that it’s okay if they don’t respond immediately, or if they don’t give you complete sentences or thoughts. Keep asking questions until they give you enough material to write the picture’s entire story.
  • These four parts can be moved around, switched, changed, lengthened or shortened according to the book’s style and the caption’s physical space and location on the spread.
  • Headlines for pictures are not required, but they make it very easy to connect the pictures to their stories. Dropped caps or colored lead-ins are very popular in design, but they can limit the number of words or letters allowed in your leads, so be careful.
  • Sentences should open with subject, prep phrase, adjective phrase, infinitive phrase, noun clause, adverb phrase, etc.
  • You need to already have talked to people before you get to the caption writing process. Those interviews’ materials will be the stuff you choose from when you are writing the quote part of the caption. If you can’t talk to to the person in the photo, talk to someone related to the action of the photo (talk to the teacher if the kid isn’t available).
  • This can be any combination of identifying material you have room for in your spread.
  • This should say who is doing what in the photo. It is more like what you might read in a newspaper than in a yearbook, but it works in text-limited spaces.
  • This gives a brief overview of the events that occurred before and after the picture was taken- kind of like a time capsule.
  • This is a fully expanded caption. You should use this format for competitions and competition-style yearbooks. It provides the most information possible and gives information to the reader that cannot be gleaned from reading the story.
  • Sometimes what the person says is just so perfect there is no reason to muck it up by adding the reporter’s words. In such cases, a quote-only caption is perfectly accedptable.
  • Start at the front, move left to right, identify everyone in the same manner, use parentheses to indicate row changes, do not put a period at the end but use commas to separate names of people.
  • Identify each montage element as its own thing. You may use lead-ins to make this more interesting if you have the space. You do not necessarily have to use the location parentheses if you are always moving in the same direction and always starting at the same point, but lead-ins would help to make things clear in that case.
  • Caption writing

    1. 1. Caption WritingA step-by-step guideto writing award-winning(thorough and informative)photo captions
    2. 2. Types of captions Identification bar:  simply who is in photo Cutline:  who is doing what Summary:  Who, doing what, when, where, why
    3. 3. More types of captions Expanded:  Who, doing what, when, where, why, how & quote Quote:  Just a quote from the person that explains doing what, when, where, why, how by the who of the photo Group Identification:  A listing of everyone in a group photo Montage Caption:  In a photo montage, photos are numbered and captioned or cutlined according to space available
    4. 4. Extended caption vs. Cutline Cutlines are simply the present tense sentence (this is standard newspaper captioning) Captions can be a variety of lengths and contain a variety of information. There are different kinds of captions, but all require investigation to do properly.
    5. 5. Step 1 Investigate every picture as it is being taken  Photographers should be reporters, too, and they should be expected to and prepared to gather information  Reporters shouldn’t let photographers go out alone- the job belongs to both of them, and they can be gathering more information while the photographer shoots things
    6. 6. Step 2 Reinvestigate each picture that will be used.  Find out who is doing what in the picture  Find out what was going on before and after the picture was taken  Find out when and where the event took place and be able to explain why that might be important to the story of the year  Find out why this event was taking place and how it represents all the other events of the year or why this event was special
    7. 7. Step 3 Set aside time (5-10 minutes is good) to talk to the people in the photograph.  DO NOT ask for a quote!!!  DO NOT tell them you want to interview them.  DO NOT expect them to give you the best story ever if you give them less than 10 seconds to think about it.
    8. 8. Step 4 Assemble the caption’s 4 parts:  Lead-in (photo headline)  Present tense sentence  Past tense sentence  Quote
    9. 9. Lead-in or mini-headline Catchy phrase or clause Immediately relates the caption to the photo with a visual-verbal connection Can be visually different from rest of copy
    10. 10. Present Tense Sentence Provides quick and easy to read information about who is doing what in the picture. Each of these sentences should open differently
    11. 11. Past tense sentence Adds more information about the circumstances surrounding the picture’s event. Provides the when, where, why, or how of the photo or the event.
    12. 12. Quote This can be either from a person in the photo or a person related to the action of the photo. This should add information that isn’t already in the other two sentences. This should be something nobody else could say about the event.
    13. 13. Identification Bar (ident)  John Smith (11)  Junior John Smith  Team captain John Smith (11)  Leading scorer John Smith (11), team captain
    14. 14. Cutline  John Smith (11) scores the winning goal in the state basketball championship game.  In the state finals, junior John Smith scores the winning basket.
    15. 15. Summary  In the state finals, John Smith (11) scores the winning two-point shot, defeating the Bonanza Bengals 102-100 at the Lawlor Events Center Feb. 11.
    16. 16. Expanded  Slam dunk… Making the final basket of the season against the Bonanza Bengals, junior John Smith sealed the fate of the team at the Lawlor Events Center Feb. 11. Smith sunk the winning shot as the buzzer sounded, ending the game 102-100. “It was like time stood still. I didn’t think it was really like that in real life; the shot felt like it was in slow motion- like in the movies,” said Smith.
    17. 17. Quote  Slam dunk… “Making that shot was amazing. Who would have thought the state game would be so close? When I made that basket, it was like time stood still. I didn’t think it was really like that in real life; the shot felt like it was in slow motion- like in the movies,” said team captain John Smith (11) after the 102-100 win Feb. 11.
    18. 18. Group Identification  Boys’ varsity basketball: (Front) Bob Smith, John Smith, Randy Smith, James Smith,
    19. 19. Montage Caption  (Top Left) Diana Lang (10) has been involved in gymnastics for ten years.  (Top Right) Asa Aninao (12) began his martial arts career with a coupon for free lessons.  (Bottom Right) Robert Villegas (11) skateboards almost every day after school.  (Bottom Left) Seniors Hillary Hershenow, Samara Nilson and Peg Malloy warm up at the barre before dance class.
    20. 20. Questions & AnswersLiz Walsh, 321-3133395 Booth St.Reno, NV 89509