Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Crafting Proper Photo Captions for Publication

By Sarah Larson

Visuals such as photos (and videos) are an important part of your communications plan, but the work doesn’t end once the image is made. If you are submitting that photo for publication, you have a little bit more to do.

Photos submitted to media outlets should be accompanied by clear information about who is pictured, what they are doing, and where and when the action took place. Here are the guidelines the Associated Press (and, therefore, most news outlets) follows for photo captions.

The first sentence of a caption should:
  • Describe who is in the photograph and what is happening in the photo in the present tense.
  • In general, names should be listed in order, left to right, unless it is impossible for the caption to read normally otherwise. With multiple people identified with the caption, enough representations to placement are necessary so there is no confusion as to each subject’s identity.
For photos created by Associated Press photographers, captions also must:
  • Name the city and state where the image was made.
  • Provide the date the photo was made, including the day of the week if the photo was made within the past two weeks.
An optional second sentence of a caption can be used to give context to the event or describe why the photo is significant. Many publications do not include a second sentence, as it takes up additional space and often is subjective, rather than being strictly factual.

The structure of a basic photo caption, therefore, can be expressed as: (Noun) (verb in present tense) (direct object) during (event name) at (proper noun / location) in (city) on (day of the week), (month) (date), (year).
Photo Credit: Jung Wi, Allure West Studios

For example, an appropriate caption for the photo at right would be:

Gray Wirth, President and CEO of Impact Thrift Stores, addresses the audience during the 1st Annual Regional Impact Breakfast at Talamore Country Club near Ambler, Pa., on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.

Note that we always recommend triple checking the factual information, including the spelling of people’s names and organizations and titles.

Having your own professional photographs to submit to publications along with your press releases, story pitches, announcements, calendar listings, articles and blog posts is more important than ever as communication continues its shift from text to visuals.

Including the correct information along with those visuals will give your submitted photos an advantage over the competition and increase your odds of having your photos chosen for publication.

1 comment:

Kylie said...

Having the correct information for photo captions is crucial when positing a photo, this will definitely help in the long run to have your photos chosen for publication.