My Photo Editor Mind - Words Can Hurt You

Sometimes a photographer’s headline, title or description of a project doesn’t match the photos I’m looking at. Make sure your words match your photos.

Let’s suppose you have shot a story or series of images and are ready to pitch it to a publication, submit it for a grant, or any other thing. You have the edit done and now begins the task of giving your story a headline and a synopsis of what the images are going to tell the viewer. Sounds easy enough. Well, this is the part that can actually hurt you.

Let’s say you shot a story about homeless people. You write your synopsis about the backstory, that an entire group of people has been harassed by the police and physically dragged from the streets in order to clear out the homeless population. You then title it, “Bruised and Abused by Police.” However, your pictures are about the present day population on the streets, how the homeless have come back and their numbers have grown. Hmmm, you gave me an idea of what I might see, people being harassed and dragged from the streets; you put these images in my head, but now when I look at your photos, I don’t see this. I’m disappointed, not happy, you didn’t deliver. The person you are pitching your story to isn’t happy either. Entice me with the photos you do have, the struggles of living on the street, the lack of food and water. Make me care about what you did shoot.

I think it’s really important to be careful what you say about your images; one false move and an editor might have expectations of what he or she is going to see, and if you don’t deliver…Yikes.