Saturday, 16 July 2011

Writing Descriptively Exercise: Write a caption

Exercise: Write a caption -  part one

Using the same photograph I had to write a 50-word caption about the subject for a general audience.

Apart from reading through the course module to give me some ideas of how to approach caption writing I did some online research and came across this article by Michael Freeman, which is actually echoed within the course.

How to Write a Professional Photo Caption | Pixiq

It outlines how important captions are to grab the audiences attention and are an 'enticement to read'. You need to think about who you are writing for and ensure your caption encourages them to look more carefully at an image.

When writing the caption think about what the image contains and don't make generalizations. Use the 5 W's: Who, What, Where,When,Why.., and when talking to pupils in school I like to add How to the list, as sometimes that is just as relevant.

What to say is just as important as what not to say, don't spell out the obvious, don't use unnecessary words, don't overload with detail, try to leave some intrigue and watch spelling and grammar. Be accurate, be truthful, be brief and be flexible as different magazines will have a different way of captioning images. It is best to discover the magazine's preference before submitting work. The Online Photographer had some insights about when NOT to use puns or inappropriate captions...The Online Photographer: In Praise of Captions

Bearing all of this is mind I gave it a go......

Danson Park, Bexley, boasts a 7.8 hectare lake at its centre. Danson Lake balances being a designated nature reserve with providing an array of water sports. Originally a private estate (design attributed to Capability Brown) Danson has emerged as one of the most valuable havens for wildlife in the area.

Exercise: Write a caption -  part two

Write a 50-word caption about the photographical elements of the image, as if for a pratical photographic magazine.

Winter dusk in Bexley, the vibrant colours of the sunset reflect in Danson Lake, catching the eye. A mix of planned composition and fortuitous timing, the silhouetted boots add interest whilst forming an implied triangle with the geese. Ripples on the water create texture and a sense of movement.

I had several draft versions of the caption before settling on the above. The example in the module has 'fortuitous' and I was trying to avoid using it too but when you are trying to use the best vocabulary sometimes you have to 'borrow' was luck that they swam across and luck that they formed a triangle but I had seen them coming and waited and waited and it was a mix of timing and luck, but fortuitous is a better word than luck, or chance or inadvertent...yes I did get out my thesaurus ;o)

Writing captions is not as easy as it would appear. My approach was to think about the intended audience and write from that perspective. Write what was there, think about the 5'W's and my added H, cut out the unnecessary words, change the order, think about the descriptive words, could they be more dynamic without appearing OTT? The two final captions are totally different, they reflect that the information is aimed at different audiences and I hope they provide honest information relevant to the guidelines of the exercise.

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