Like many others who venture into Instagram (for me it’s crochet, books, my nieces, the garden and clouds…I am definitely a fan of evening light), I often pack a lot of detail into the description and hashtags.
However, I wonder if everyone using Instagram realises that they are being taught an elusive art? They may not realise it, but they are learning how to caption – adding the written information needed to adequately identify an image.
I have done this before for books, magazines and newspaper pieces, and often found it difficult to pack in all the information needed in the two to three lines granted. You have to name the people involved, and give an idea of when, why and how they are important in that image, as well as provide the location. Sometimes you even have to give source information in the space granted.
It can be a battle sometimes, but it is also a fun challenge. It exercises your skills of expression, and is like fitting a puzzle in a framework. And so it continues into the sphere of Instagram. Sure, you can go on for as long as you like, but if you want people to grab that quick snippet of your life, you soon realise that you need to cut back on the words.
I’m going to take an example from the image compilation above. In the collage photo on the right, second row down, there is a huge amount happening. I have flowers, seed packets, crocheted shapes and the rainbow lorikeet that haunts our back garden. It’s very busy.
I had to caption this image with something that put it all in one succinct phrase. So, I went with ‘At first I thought today was all washed out – but then I took another look.’ To me, that grabs the basic idea that the weather wasn’t ideal, but there was plenty of colour around anyway. The hashtags then provide the hooks for any further investigation.
It’s a great little exercise, so take a look at a captioned book to see what happens there, and then see how you can transfer your own wording skills into developing the art of captioning – all thanks to Instagram.