“So that if – like myself at the time – your are determined to promote causes and affect conditions, photographs can be a potent means for doing so.” So says Tom Hopkinson in his autobiography Of This Our Time.
He edited Picture Post in its hay days from 1940 to 1950. He used the combination of words and pictures which Picture Post’s founding editor had introduced. He would send out a photographer and a writer on assignments. He would tell the writer not to get in the way of the photographer. After all, he reasoned, a story could always be rewritten but the picture has to be captured at the right time.
So many photographs today, in all types of content, do not tell a story. They merely illustrate the piece. And then the picture caption merely tells the reader what they already know: what is in the picture.
Here are 3 rules for boosting the use of photos in all content:
- Choose the photo(s) so that they tell another story along with the words;
- Try to avoid generic photos such as of a beach for a holiday piece;
- Tell another story in the picture caption: add something to what can be seen in the photo.
For example, if you have a picture of an old building don’t just give its name: tell the reader when it was built and who lived there first.
Do these 3 things and you will be feeding the imagination of readers.
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