Image Captioning

Image selection prior to wiring is critical, take time to choose the images that best tell the story that you are covering. Images should be sharp, and accurately exposed.

On occasions you will find that papers will use muzzy poorly exposed images, if the content is strong enough. There are occasions were perfect high quality images are not possible to get, shooting through shop windows, car windows, or shooting by available street lights at night means that images are going to be very noisy and very probably a bit soft.

Depending upon how big the story is and how many pictures you are wiring, be selective, if a picture doesn’t work don’t wire, if you had a brief and the image doesn’t fulfil the brief don’t wire it, do keep it to one side, as the paper may ask for it.  I have had numerous occasions where the paper has given a very specific brief, and I have shot a job exactly to the spec only to have the paper ask for something completely different after the job has been done and dusted. One example was a woman who had won the Queens Medal for shooting, and the paper specifically asked for “a nice set of her with her shooting regalia and her gun, so I shot several dozen frames and wired in half a dozen images from full length, to prone position with her firearm, and an hour later the paper phoned and asked for a full-length image of her conventionally dressed. SO if you are doing a job, and you have time, cover every possible angle. But do not wire them all initially.

IPTC: Having selected your images, it is essential to caption them, when it comes to captions you need to include as much information as possible. Firstly to reduce the risk of confusion over an image, who it is and when and when it was taken. So ideally (especially of it was a snatch picture) the caption information should contain the following, Name of the Photographer, Name of the Agency (company), Date image captured, time of image, location including whether the place that the image was taken from was private property, also you should include a warning that (if appropriate) that the image was capture on a long lens, i.e. 800mm and above, this obviously doesn’t matter for sport pictures etc. Contact information should also be included as should copyright details.  Many images are kept on the newspapers EPD (electronic picture desk) software for months and the caption information is used to research images so Captions are very important.

Image naming conventions.

Image file names are also important, and used as part of a search engine on the EPD, so make sure that images are suitably named. Names should give an idea of what the content is, and should also contain an originators reference. The accepted method is a three letter code, i.e. originator is PFS, which is placed between the file name and the sequential number.

Some photographers use the name/surname as the first part of the file name, and some even include peculiar characters including forward and back slashes. My advice is don’t, forward/backward slashes are used by a number of operating systems as a designator of subdirectories, the only characters that should be used in file names are alpha numeric and hyphens and underscores, there is no reason or need to use anything else.

Sequential numbers should start at 001 and increment from there, the strongest image should be first.

An example file name would be Nesbitt Leaves Home PFS001.JPG other suitable or accpetable filename formats include ATog_Nesbitt_Leaves_Home_PFS001.jpg, or even ATog_NesbittLeaves001.jpg  Never, ever send anything with a file name like Atog/Nesbitt”Leaves”Home/12/04/2003/001.jpg

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