Presentation on theme: "Preparing Photo Captions Adapted from the Poynter Institute, the The New York Times and the AP Style Guide."— Presentation transcript:
Preparing Photo Captions Adapted from the Poynter Institute, the The New York Times and the AP Style Guide.
Students at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, N.J., are old hands at text messaging, but not all of the words are friendly. By Jan Hoffman Published: June 27, 2010
Photo Caption A short sentence or two that describes a photograph or illustration within a page layout. Also called a cutline.
Why use photo captions? Photo captions are an integral part of storytelling, but they are often the most underdeveloped element in the mix of words, graphics, and photographs. Captions are second only to headlines as the most read copy in newspapers and other media. A poorly executed caption can destroy the message of a photo. The reader/viewer expects nothing less than accurate, complete, and informative information, including captions.
Reader Behavior Reader looks briefly at the photo. Subtle aspects of the photo may not register When interest is sparked the reader will typically look for the photo explanation (caption/cutline). After reading the caption the reader goes back to the photo for a second look.
How do you write a good caption? Include the main elements by answering the following. AP Style suggests identifying the Who, What, Where, When, Why, How Who is that? (And, in most cases, identify people from left to right unless the action in the photograph demands otherwise.) What is going on? Where and when was this? Why is this important or significant? How did this occur?
Writing the Caption First Sentence: Who and What, Where and When! Who and What the photo shows (in present tense) Where and When of the photo Second Sentence: Why and/or How Why… is the photo significant AND/OR How: Gives the background on the event
Example of a Standard AP Caption The Mississippi River flows through a hole in the Sny Island, Ill., levee, flooding farmland and homes 10 miles south of Quincy, Ill., Sunday, July 25, 1993. About 2,000 people were evacuated from the 44,000 acres that flooded. ( AP Photo/Bill Waugh)
Read the following captions and determine if the caption is good, okay or poor based on AP style.
Poor Caption Fresh meats are stocked at the grocery store.
Good Caption John Mueller prepares Nancys Pride for the Grimes County 4-H Horse judging contest. The judging contest is held annually during the Grimes County fair.
Okay Caption Oatka Dairy has been owned by the Butler family for three generations. This fall the dairy will close because of low milk prices.
Hot Tips Check the facts. Be accurate! Don't assume. Ask questions in your effort to inform and be specific. Be willing to contact and include the subject. Ask for correct spelling of names. Avoid stating the obvious. "Dennis Rodman smiles as he kicks a broadcast photographer in the groin. Provide useful information. Always identify the main people in the photograph.
Hot Tips Use present tense when possible. Don't try to be humorous when the picture is not. Use commas to set off directions from the captions to the picture. George Wardlow, above,..."or Casandra Cox, upper left,..." Conversational language works best. Don't use clichés. Write the caption as if you're telling a family member a story.
Hot Tips Avoid making judgments. "An unhappy citizen watches the protest.... If you must be judgmental, be sure you seek the truth. Avoid using terms like "is shown, is pictured, and looks on." Include dates for historic or file photos, Mayor David Dinkins, 1993.
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Kingston mother of 7 returns to college seeking new career in agricultural education Cheryl Meyers of Kingston teaches a lesson on horticultural stems in an agriculture class at Alpena High School. An agricultural education, communications and technology major, Meyers is student teaching at Alpena. Bumpers College alumnus and vocational agriculture teacher Chris Adams is her mentor at Alpena.