Join John McWade for an in-depth discussion in this video Nine captions on one photo!, part of Learning Graphic Design: Techniques.
Hidden, it seems, in every picture, are many stories. There is kind of the global story of you see with these five students side by side on the walkway. Then, each one of these people has a personal story, or many. There's a story in the sidewalk. Who designed it? How did it get there? The student union building, who made that and how is it used? What's that bicycle over there? What kinds of trees are these? Many stories going on here. And one of the coolest ways to unpack these stories is to write a caption for each one, and put it right on the photo.
So, for example, look at this student. We've written a caption specifically for him. Set it in a single typeface. This is Vectora Roman, bold caps. It's Sans Serif, which against a busy background, I recommend. It needs to be clean, very simple. We've added a thin border and put a slight translucency in the background because laying small type across a busy background will make a mess. But this tells a story.
Tim has a story. Cassandra has a story. Dawn has a story. Roger has a story. Graphically, there is a consistency here. We still our picture stories framed in white frames, each of which is the same width as the other. The frames just run as long as they need until the story ends. On this photo, these are biographical stories, which you can see if we get in a little closer. It starts with the students name and just tells a little about them. And so, now, one picture has five verbal stories on it, as well as the kind of overall visual story.
What's fun is that there can be another level. We can add even more captions by putting more of them off to the side and numbering them. These captions look different because they are different, and it's important to separate them visually. These are not biographies, but just remarks from an outside observer. Which you can see if we zoom in. Comment about the activity center. Comment about Dawn's textbook. Comment about Roger's shoes.
So, all of a sudden, we go back to look at the picture as a whole. We have one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine stories that we're telling on a single image. Way more interesting. Way more engaging than just the generic caption that you would typically see and you wouldn't know any of these stories just by looking at the picture itself. So, when you have a cool picture, unpack it for your audience, and put the captions as many as you need. Write on it.
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