A picture is worth a thousand words. However, choosing the right words to describe the beauty, power, and meaning of your images can be harder than it looks.
Here are some tips on how to write creative and engaging captions for your photos.
1. Proper spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar should be observed. Nothing is worse than a caption that is borderline unreadable.
2. Write short and concise captions. Generally, two or three sentences will suffice, with a total of around 140 characters. Only add a third sentence if more contextual information is necessary to explain the image thoroughly.
3. Adding the third sentence is a good idea if you want to direct the reader to the detail in the photo that you want them to focus on. For instance, in a real estate photo, you might write the third sentence as, “Note the Baroque-style archway in the hallway.”
4. If there’s a beautiful story behind the photo, then it is definitely fine to share it. The captions of National Geographic’s Instagram photos are perfect examples of long-form captions. Their impressive stories add value to their visuals.
5. Make sure the information in your caption is correct and accurate. This is especially important in journalistic photos such as those in newspapers, magazines, journals, and reports. Ensure that professional titles are included, the names of the entities are properly spelled, the location is the right one, and the date is included. Double or triple-check your data to ensure that it is correct.
6. Avoid stating the obvious. If the bride and groom are smiling at each other, don’t write that they are smiling at each other. The photo already visually shows what the subject is doing. Rephrase the caption to reflect the story behind the image. Instead of saying, “The couple smiles at each other,” write, “John and Mary share a light moment during a break in their wedding ceremony rehearsal.
7. A quote from a famous person adds a meaningful touch to an image, especially if it is strongly related to the photo. Travel, landscape, wedding, wildlife, and portrait photos often use beautiful quotes to make the images more poignant.
8. If you are writing for a specific audience, utilize jargon that the audience uses. Use the vocabulary, slang, nuances, and terms of the subject in your photo. For example, if your subject is a rock climber, use rock climbing jargon.
Write “John red points the tricky 5.15a Kong, finally conquering the crux of the route—an extremely steep overhang with no feet.” Your caption sounds awkward to the rock climbing community if you write, “John climbs and completes the 5.15a Kong after going up the most difficult part of the cliff.”
Using the wrong terminology or not knowing your subject’s jargon makes your caption sound amateurish.
9. Ask a question; it could be an open-ended question, a yes-or-no question, or a skill-testing question. Doing so engages the readers and encourages them to comment on your photo. The increase in engagement does wonders for your site’s search engine optimization (SEO). With good SEO, more people and potential clients will notice your website.
For example, for your latest glamour photo, you can write, “What do you think about La Ville’s new line of summer sundresses?”
It would also be a good idea to include a call to action to improve engagement. Ask people to write a comment, tag their friends, share your photo, join your contest, or share their opinion.
10. Use your business’ tagline or hashtag. This gives the photo a sense of identity and helps with branding. Additionally, using taglines and hashtags that are associated with your industry or business can help to you gain more followers, increase interaction, and also helps your images easier to find by people looking for specific images and tags. A perfect example is Nike’s photo below; it utilizes the company’s tagline “Just Do It.”
Hint: Avoid the overuse of hashtags, especially in Instagram captions. Hashtags help improve visibility, but they can be quite annoying if you put a hashtag on almost every word. Hashtags should only be used on words that are relevant. A good rule of thumb is if there’s no reason for the reader to click on the word, then do not put a hashtag.
11. For SEO purposes, insert strategic keywords in your caption. You can use Google Adwords Keyword Planner, Moz Keyword Explorer, Wordtracker, and other keyword research tools to determine the best keywords. In addition, remember to put the most important words first.
12. Use captions in your blog posts, product descriptions, photo displays as well as your social media accounts.
With these techniques, your photos will have a deeper meaning or a more comprehensive story. Using beautifully written captions is sure to attract and engage your readers.