Everyone has hobbies or leisure activities he indulges in, usually in his spare or free time. You find one fond of banknotes, another one mad about stamps or very old coins of money. As to me, I very much revel in captivating captions and not in ordinary and unprepossessing ones.
A caption is simply, for those who are not familiar with it, a depiction of a picture. It is often used interchangeably with the word “cutline”. Cambridge dictionary defines it as follows: “A short piece of text under a picture in a book, magazine or newspaper that describes the picture or explains what the people in it are doing or saying.”
I am actually a great lover of captions. I do not really know whether there are some who share such an infatuation. As a matter of fact, caption infatuation is triggered off by the extreme beauty of style utilised therein, the power of brevity and the might of accurate depiction of a picture. The latter is so beauteously rendered into words that you feel the terms and the picture are much of a muchness, peas in a pod, completely authentic twins.
The caption can be situated immediately under the picture or above it or even to the side. It can be one long sentence, separated by commas or a couple of sentences. To be highlighted and easy to spot, it is usually written in a different colour, to boot. It is found in magazines, books, newspapers and even on TV screens, and in the digital age on social media websites where you find pictures associated with illustrating captions. Besides, to flourish and survive, international magazines resort to appealing advertising; airlines, for instance, opt for nice pictures endorsed by well-designed captions to persuade readers to love their flights.
Not anybody can excel in writing captions; only professionals are able to formulate a glamorous and luring text with proper diction. What’s more, not any photo may be captioned; it ought to be eye-catching and highly expressive, that’s why photos are not taken by amateurs and are generally assigned to specialised teams, part of the general staff of newspapers and magazines.
Not any Tom, Dick and Harry may taste and relish captions, in that one should be a bookish reader habituated to reading and able to sift perfect writing from mediocre one.
It is high time I gave an example of three captions and high time you released the brakes of your imagination, and gave free rein to your grey matter to guess how the pictures might be like.
The first caption goes:
If waste is bottom of your management agenda, it could bury you.
For some managers this pile of garbage will look uncomfortably familiar.
Is your environmental problem built of paper, plastics, liquids and metals? Does it range from packaging, piping, contaminated cans and containers to discarded computer equipment? If so, we can help. (The Economist, Sept 1995 p.74.)
The second caption reads:
Harvesting genetic samples across the breadth of Asia, researchers are finding that the portable, long-lasting, tasty and nutritious walnut may have spread because it was an ideal traveller’s snack along the Silk Roads. (AramcoWorld March/April 2017 Vol.68, No.2 p.1)
The third and last one is as follows:
With her infant clinging to her belly, a female saunters up a fig-tree limb 130 feet above the ground. This forest, with its dense canopy, is home for hundreds of chimps_here they find food, shelter, and community as well as elevated routes for moving freely throughout their range.(National Geographic Interactive 2010-02. Published on Sep 17, 2011)
To cap it all, not any flower is so beauteous that you feel like picking it, and so is a caption. The caption will not be so marvellous and eye-catching unless it is rendered at once tersely, but comprehensively. Reading is a skill whose sphere or scope has to be widened and enlarged to include not only single sentences, small paragraphs, biographies and articles, but captions as well. The latter ought not to be the main concern of solely journalists, but should reach also ravenous and relishing readers.