Scrapbookers have taken the concept of photo captions to a whole other level. Whereas most writers and bloggers don’t have the time to literally take a page (or layout) from their books, there’s no arguing that a creative use of captions with your photographs or illustrations can also enhance your writing.

Re-Using Past Captions

Photo caption of old photo of baby looking surprised

Why the very idea!

If you’re scanning photos out of an old photo album, consider preserving the original caption in some way. To preserve it digitally, you can scan the album pages with the original caption, use the caption as part of the scanned file’s name, or use the captioning utility of your photo-organizing software. That way, when you use that image in you writing, you’ll have access to the caption the origin owner of the photo album used. Likewise, when scanning, don’t forget to keep track of any inscriptions you find on the back of the photo. These often work quite well as a caption as well.

If you’re blogging for the blogosphere, i.e., hoping to attract readers outside of your family and close friends, there’s another reason to use descriptive file names. Stephanie Chandler, author of Own Your Niche points out, “…the actual file name for each image provides yet another opportunity to improve keyword concentration. For example, instead of inserting an image simply named photo.jpg, rename the image to something like corporate-leadership-book-joe-author.jpg.”[1]

Creative Photo Captions Tell Stories

Photo caption of an old photo of a young woman petting a mule

Photo Caption: Early on, my mother showed her penchant for big-eared guys

There will, of course, be times that you find a picture you’d like to use, about which you know no details or background. In these cases, creativity will be your guide. For instance, I found a photo of my mother as a young woman petting a mule, but I didn’t know what year it was or whose mule it was. As I was scanning the photo for a project for my sister, I reflected on the fact that my sister always lamented inheriting our father’s big ears. (He was always easy to identify in any group shot.) Although the page I was working on for my sister was more about life on the farm, I captioned that image as “Early on in life, Ellen shows her penchant for big-eared guys.” My sister appreciated the captioned humor.

Of course, you don’t always have to use captions. Sometimes a picture really is worth a 1000 words.

© Laura Hedgecock 2013


[1] Stephanie Chandler, “Author Websites: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Basics Part 1.”, August 22, 2011,

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