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Image captions

Every image should have a good image caption. An image caption is a short description explaining the subject of the photo, as well as the location and what is happening in the photo. Image captions are absolutely essential in categories such as geography, nature, botany, zoology, research, industry, medicine, science, etc. Even images that might seem self-explanatory, such as lifestyles or business situations, should be submitted with a clear and descriptive caption in order to help customers to easily understand what is shown in those images.

In all kinds of images, it’s important that the image caption contains all of the relevant or important information. The information should be clear, precise, and factual. Use proper punctuation and a logical order to avoid a mass of confusing information. Be as concise as possible, so that the client can find the important information very quickly. Good captions are those that clearly identify the subject of the picture and provide context for it.

Location information

All images should include information about the location where they were taken. Location information may be helpful to the customers even if the location is not the main focus of the image. Such information may be omitted in studio shots, abstract imagery, etc.

Besides following these general principles, each image category demands some specific information.

  • Lifestyles: ask yourself who are the people appearing in your images, what are they doing, what is their mood, which role are they playing, how do they relate to each other, what is the setting... All these questions will help you to create good descriptive captions for your lifestyle images.
  • Travel / Landscapes / World locations: obviously location information becomes particularly important in these images. Include the name of the city (if necessary), state or province, and country. Also include the names of the buildings, landmarks and monuments depicted. Information about architectural styles, construction dates or local history related to the pictured locations may also be useful.
  • Nature / Wildlife: If you specialize in photos of plants, insects, animals, even in macro or microphotography, it is essential that you provide the common and scientific names of the plants/animals. Unidentified animals and plants are virtually useless. Besides Genus and Species, additional information about order and family may also be useful. If animals are portrayed in captivity, this information must also be supplied together with the specific place (zoo, nature reserve, etc.) where the image was taken. In photomicrography, information about the technique used is always welcome.
  • Science / Industry: add accurate information about the processes and activities depicted, the facilities in which they are taking place, the items portrayed, etc. The more specific your information is the better.
  • Food: in addition to the name of the dish, you may include the cooking technique, main ingredients, country of origin (e.g. French cuisine), etc.
  • Fine art: include all available information which help to identify the artwork: name, artist, technique, date or period, style, gallery or museum which houses it, etc. An unidentified painting or sculpture with a caption that only reads "Museum" or "Painting" is useless.

Caption language

All captions must be supplied in English. Buildings or landmarks with common non-English names (e.g. "Gamla Stan", "Grote Markt" ) are recommended to be captioned in both English and non-English names ( e.g. "Gamla Stan (Old town)", "Grote Markt (Grand Place)" ). If you are using a translator in order to translate descriptions from your native language into English, make sure that you are not translating untranslatable names of people or places and rendering them unidentifiable (e.g. avoid translating proper names like "José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero", former Spanish prime minister, into "José Luis Rodríguez Shoemaker").

Finally, please be sure that your information is accurate. Use reliable sources and if in doubt, it is better to give less information than provide information that might be incorrect. A cathedral from the 12th century cannot be baroque, nor is an Iranian the same as an Arab, or Sardinia part of France. If you’re not sure about your facts, it is better that you don’t include them. Understandably, clients don’t like to buy photos that are labeled with misleading or false information. This principle also applies to the keywording information that you add.


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