Breathing Life into your Cutlines, with Kevin Kline from Berry College.
This session dealt with cutlines, which was very helpful for me, since I’m the one who typically writes them.
Some of the things we went over were:
-don’t repeat information from the headline, the deck, or the lead
-looking at a picture without a cutline is like watching TV with the sound turned off and without close captions
-good cutline can continue the story and fill in the details which are not apparent in the picture
-write cutlines as if they are a mini-news story. Address the what, who, when, where, why, and how.
-include small details that aren’t obvious (include details from the photo that might be overlooked by a casual reader – this can make it more interesting for a second look).
-include taste, smell, and touch – round out a caption with sensual details
-use a quote whenever possible – a direct quote from the subject (this was new to me)
-editorializing: don’t make conclusions about what the subject is thinking or feeling – let the reader decide
-avoid stating the obvious
-always identify the main people in the photo
-interview people about what is being depicted
– in the first line, use present tense. This will create a sense of immediacy and impact. Use second tense for the second sentence.
-use directions, “above” or “above left”
-get the details about what happened before and after the photo was taken
-parts of a cutline:
1.) the lead in: one or two words that are capitalized and/or in bold
2.) 1 st sentence: who, what, where (in present tense)
3.) 2nd sentence: why, how (background information in past tense)
-use strong visual and specific nouns
-use lively verbs
-don’t begin with the names, typically
-don’t do the same thing over and over: don’t be formulaic
-don’t pad the cutline to fill space
-don’t direct address – no talking to the photo (the photo shows…)
-6 deadly sins of writing cutlines:
1.) starting with the name
2.) “picture here”
3.) someone “looks on”
4.) including the words: appear to, seems to
5.) “poses for/ smiles for,” or any reference to posing or smiling
6.) “works hard / works diligently,” this shows opinion