Tips to Capture Your Audience with Captions
The recent article “10 vacation photo clichés to avoid” in USA Today made me laugh, and some of that laughter was at myself. I may be guilty of cliché #4, i.e. The back of my head shot.
Do you find a certain type of vacation snapshot particularly annoying? Always seeing the same copycat, unimaginative, tired ol’ pose or style? (To be clear, I’m talking about being annoyed, not envious because you’re not on vacation. There is a difference!)
Take a quick look at USA Today’s list:
- The “I’m going somewhere” shot.
- The plane window shot.
- The “look at my food” shot.
- The back of head shot.
- The iconic landmark aka “I’m a tourist” shot.
- The infamous hand-holding shot.
- The first cocktail shot.
- The “I got a pedicure” shot.
- The balcony view shot.
- The “hot dogs or legs” shot.
For me, perhaps the most aggravating aspect of these clichés is that they don’t challenge one’s photography skills. I like to think of travel as experiencing the new and trying different things. Those apply to all aspects of a trip including photography.
What other cliché shots would you add to the above list? Maybe the staged photo bomb? Or an in-your-face-without-permission of a local?
In addition to kicking up your photography skills, I would like to share some tips on creating captions for your social postings.
#1 An inspiring quote to lift someone’s day
I go for inspiration when I can’t think of a caption to go with a picture. Added benefit: I have received messages thanking me for making someone’s day with just the right quote to go with an image.
#2 Tell a story about the place and include yourself
Along with the history or facts of a location, audiences like to learn something about you – favorite vegetable or cocktail, for example. Posting a photo with hashtags isn’t quite enough to make you stand out.
#3 Re-purpose material
I use clips from previous articles plus other pieces I’ve written for clients when applicable. Oftentimes I find the right words to go with an image. Plus, I’ve already done the research.
#4 Get ready for your close-up
There’s nothing wrong with being a model in your photos. However, it’s wise to add value to your posts. Sometimes, I make fun of myself and get real with the audience.
#5 Champion your hometown
I am a big promoter of my hometown and include my favorite finds. Typically, I highlight “off the beaten path” places. I live in Northern Virginia close to Washington, D.C., but as a local, I tell people I am from Washington, D.C.
#6 Ask a meaningful question
Questions engage readers. I notice, people love to talk about the weather. This is great way to bond with your virtual friends. Two other engaging topics are pets and animals.
#7 Answer frequently asked questions
Address or write on a topic about which you are often asked. The question I receive the most is “how do I become a luxury travel writer?” I recently spoke about this at TEDx , and you can see my detailed answer at ann-tran.com.
Of course, not everyone will read what you share. Some of us favor images over text and vice versa. However, if you want to stand out, be sure to showcase your writing skills.
I think it is odd to plop down a picture with no caption? Don’t you? It’s like walking into a room and demanding attention for no reason at all. Captions add context to a photo, thereby adding value to your audience. This is the subtle part to the art of storytelling.
What are some of your secret caption-writing guidelines? Feel free to share with us.
Until next time …