Creating the Perfect Editorial Caption

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EditorialNews

You have a great editorial image/footage clip but it’s been rejected for its caption? What’s up with that!?

For newsworthy content to have any long-term value, it must include a proper Editorial Caption that identifies the important aspects of the image/footage clip. The easiest way to check your caption is to make sure it has the following qualifiers: Who, What, Where and When.

Simply examine your image and describe what’s going on. Shutterstock has a 200 character limit on captions so please be Concise, Factual, and remember: Accuracy is important.

To make it easier for editors to search and correctly identify Shutterstock images, we require the following standard editorial format for captions:

CITY, STATE/COUNTRY – MONTH DAY: Factual description of the image content

on [date] in [location]. Qualifying newsworthy second sentence (if necessary).

Dateline:

The dateline is very important because it allows editors to quickly scan through image titles for the date and location they need. Therefore, the dateline must be in an exact format, and in all CAPITAL LETTERS.

• If the city is large or well-known, such as MOSCOW, it is not necessary to include the country in the dateline or description. Please see the bottom of this article for a comprehensive list of standalone cities.

• If the exact date is unknown or does not apply, please provide as much information as available, and replace unknown information in both the dateline and description with CIRCA (Example 2).

Example2editorialcaption

First Sentence:

Look at your photograph. Describe what is going on in the image. Here, include the necessary factual information which directly describes the depicted scene. If the photo depicts people, start by identifying the subject(s) with the person’s/people’s name(s), and describe what they are doing. Be sure to describe the action in the active present tense (Example 3). End the first sentence with the date, followed by the location.

People:

• Sports and Celebrity images should ALWAYS include the name of the person depicted.

• Human interest photos – if the name of the subject is not available, simply write “unidentified” in your caption. For example, “An unidentified woman sells vegetables…”

• Children – due to the sensitive nature of photographing children, provide the name, age, and general area of residence for all children in editorial photographs. If this information cannot be obtained and the photo is particularly newsworthy, we will consider approval, provided the description is factually accurate, and states “an unidentified child” .

Action:

• Always describe actions in the active present tense (Example 3).

Example3editorialcaption

Second Sentence:

Sometimes a second sentence is not necessary (Example 3). However, if the first sentence is not enough to fully describe the photograph, use a second sentence. Ask yourself: why is this newsworthy? Remember, all photos of famous landmarks or cities can be newsworthy, even if they are not taken during a particular event. You simply need to find the news angle (Example 4).

Example4editorialcaption

Image Manipulation:

Editorial images should never be digitally altered. Scaling and cropping slightly is acceptable (sometimes you must crop a newsworthy editorial image), but you should never add or remove elements to make an image sell more, such as adding smoke at a protest or removing background elements.

What you could do simply in a darkroom is generally acceptable with Photoshop. However, changing key elements of the image to your advantage is not ethical. The best editorial image is the full frame image. If you must crop it, the “message” of the image must not change at all. It is of utmost importance to maintain the editorial integrity of the image in every way.

List of Standalone Cities [Not all Inclusive]:

U.S. CITIES

Las Vegas

St. Louis

Copenhagen

Oslo

Albany

Los Angeles

St. Paul

Djibouti

Ottowa

Albuquerque

Memphis

Syracuse

Dublin

Panama

Anchorage

Mexico City

Trenton

Edinburgh

Paris

Atlanta

Miami

Tucson

Frankfurt

Prague

Atlantic City

Miami Beach

Virginia Beach

The Hague

Quebec

Baltimore

Milwaukee

Washington*

Havana

Rio Di Janero

Boston

Minneapolis

White Plains

Hong Kong

Rome

Buffalo

Nashville

Yonkers

Islamabad

San Marino

Chicago

Newark

NON U.S. CITIES

Istanbul

San Salvador

Cincinatti

New Haven

Algiers

Jerusalem

Sao Paulo

Cleveland

New Orleans

Amsterdam

Johannesburg

Shanghai

Colorado Springs

New York

Athens

Kuwait

Singapore

Dallas

Oklahoma City

Bangkok

Lisbon

Stockholm

Denver

Omaha

Beijing

London

Tehran

Des Moines

Philadelphia

Berlin

Luxembourg

Tel Aviv

Detroit

Phoenix

Bombay

Macau

Tokyo

El Paso

Pittsburgh

Bonn

Madrid

Toronto

Fort Worth

Rochester

Brasilia

Manila

Tunis

Hartford

Sacramento

Brussels

Milan

Venice

Honolulu

Salt Lake City

Budapest

Monaco

Vienna

Houston

San Antonio

Buenos Aires

Montreal

Zurich

Indianapolis

San Diego

Cairo

Moscow

Iowa City

San Francisco

Calcutta

Munich

Jersey City

Seattle

Cape Town

New Delhi

*Note: D.C. is not used

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