A caption is the small block of text beneath an image that’s used to provide readers with additional context or the source attribution (i.e. the image credit). Because readers often pay particular attention to captions, it’s important to be thoughtful about the content, and ensure captions are clear and relevant. Below are a series of questions to take into consideration when crafting your image captions.
#1: Does the image contain locations that aren’t widely known?
Not the Statue of Liberty.
Above is a picture of the ore storage building at the abandoned Allie Belle mine in the ghost town of St. Elmo, Colorado. Situated at nearly 10,000 feet in Colorado’s Sawatch Range, St. Elmo was founded in 1879, and at its peak boasted 2,000 residents, five hotels, several saloons, a schoolhouse, general store, telegraph office, and a newspaper. Today, many of the abandoned structures stand relatively well-preserved, though are rumored to be haunted by the spirit of a sprightly ghost named Annabelle.
#2: Could readers view the image differently than intended?
Do you see knees or something else?
While eating at a pub in Denver, I noticed the basket holding the bottles of barbecue sauce cast an interesting shadow on the napkins. Within the shadow, I saw a person’s legs sitting on a mesh metal chair (like the sort one might see at a swimming pool). The rounded part resembled the knees. My dining companions, however, viewed the shadow differently. And if you see the same likeness as they did, you’ll understand why this image needs a caption.
#3: Does the image need a source attribution?
M.P Walter, Pillars, 2016 (c) M.P Walter
We promised the photographer we’d attribute this image to him using the above caption. He captured this image while mountain biking in Moab, Utah.
#4: Does the image contain people who aren’t widely recognized?
Do you recognize this person?
Unless we’ve met, you probably have no idea who this person is. (Answer: Indie author Erika Simms)