Captioning Photos Writing captions and adding in Adobe Lightroom & Adobe Bridge

Years ago captions were typed out and pasted right on to the photograph for sending by wire. Here's an example prepared for the Associate Press wire service.


  • Writing Captions
  • Examples
  • Adding captions in Lightroom or Bridge

Captions are critical.

Writing captions for your photos is not only important it's expected of you. Captions tell the story behind the photograph and help your reader/viewer to understand more about the moment you've captured, from who's in the photo to what's happening in the photo.

Captions are not the whole story just a concise glimpse of it. Some of your photos will be accompanied by a story and you'll merely be sharing information about the five Ws in your caption. Others - such as for stand alone feature photos or photos you're sending on a wire - require the caption in a concise form.

Obtaining the information for your caption starts when you take the photograph! Learn these rules and you'll remember to get all the information you need.

Write clear captions. In Photojournalism: A Professional's Approach (pp 178-9) the importance of caption writing is shared. In short:

The Five Ws...and one H for good measure.

  1. Who?
  2. What?
  3. When?
  4. Where?
  5. Why?
  6. How?

Get this information when you get the photo and you'll be on your way to writing a clear caption. And remember! When you get the Who be sure to get contact information including phone number and email.

Here are a couple of additional guidelines to keep you in good graces with your editor and viewers!

Photojournalism: A Professional's Approach ~ Page 179

Just (Don't) Do It.

  1. Don't ever begin your caption with: "This photograph shows..." or "In this photograph..." It insults your viewers' intelligence.
  2. Don't write about things that are NOT in the photograph. Along those lines, don't ever write "Not pictured are...". If someone or something is NOT in the photo do not write about it!

Example captions for a group of photographs.

Summit County Rescue Group Avalanche Training

Members of the Summit County Rescue Group (SCRG) conduct a simulated avalanche rescue, Wednesday, at the Frisco Adventure Park. Multiple scenarios were presented to rescue personnel tasking them with different skill sets for rescuing trapped victims. The rescue group is made up mostly of volunteers. Clockwise from top left: Members of SCRG are given scenarios and team make-up by leaders. A group of rescuers begins digging out a trapped avalanche victim. Team members bring down an injured skier. Volunteer (---) leads his team to a scenario involving snowmobiles. Volunteer (---) responds to a signal on his avalanche transceiver. A transceiver both receives and sends out signals allowing rescuers to pinpoint victims. Rescuers dig for a victim and reach her in time.

Captions in Lightroom

Adding captions in Adobe Lightroom is easy!

  1. Scroll down through the right tabs to Metadata.
  2. Add a Title (optional).
  3. Type in your caption.
  4. Use "Sync" button to automatically add the same caption to multiple photos. Select the photos you want to apply the same caption/metadata to. Click Sync. You can update individual captions as needed.

When you export the images the caption information will become a part of the image's metadata.

The white bar in the center of example image shows what it looks like when you click "Sync". You can see where the information shows up.

Caption in Bridge

In Adobe Bridge you'll add your caption information in the "Metadata" tab.

If you don't see "Metadata" tab go to "Window" in the menu bar and select Metadata. You can move the tab where ever you want in Bridge.
  1. Click the arrow for IPTC Core
  2. In "Description" textbox type your caption.
  3. You'll have to do this one photo at a time.

You won't be able to Sync the data as you can in Lightroom. This is a real drawback to using Bridge as your only editing workflow and a great reason for stepping up to Lightroom!

If you're wondering what IPTC and all these acronyms mean visit: iptc.org/standards/photo-metadata/iptc-standard/

~ 30 ~

Created By
Matthew Lit


Photos © 1983 and 2018 Matt Lit

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