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How to Write a Description of Your Photograph

Fall Leaves

Canon EOS 50D 18-135mm, focal length 36mm, f 8.0, 1/50, ISO 500  11/8/11-280-R

Canon EOS 50D 18-135mm, focal length 36mm, f 8.0, 1/50, ISO 500 11/8/11-280-R

Robin Anderson Photography

Do you ever look at your photograph and think -- why should I write anything about this picture? Doesn't the image itself say it all? Yes and no. Every images says something different to different people. Sometimes I like to know what the photographer was thinking when he/she took the picture. I like to know the story behind the photo. And sometimes I like to know how that image affects him or her.

So, you are going to write a short something about the photograph -- where do you begin? The image might have some deep meaning to you that is buried so deep down inside that you don't know how to begin to convey that meaning. Try this little exercise:

Divide your elements up in the photograph. Using this photograph as an example, I made 2 categories. The first one has a mixture of words describing and naming the subject of the photo -- the tree. The second category has words describing and naming the forest.

First CategorySecond Category 














passed away




















Pick two words from each category, then pair them up for a descriptive sentence about the photograph.

Here is my first effort: The yellow tree seems solitary amongst the other grey trees that have surrendered their leaves to Fall. It seems a little mechanical to me, but kind of fun.

Here is a dark one: The bold yet solitary tree seems alone amongst the dead masses.

Here is a poetic one: Vibrant and bold is the tree, sheltered in the somber and sleepy woods.

Here is a Dr. Suess one: The tree is solitary and zesty in the woods that are sleepy and not so festy.

So, now that you are loosened up... here are few more ideas on how to get the ball rolling.

  • write about the lead up to taking the photograph.
  • write about any obsticles that got in my way.
  • write about good things that came out of taking the photograph.

My photography can be personal. The photograph that I am using as an example is very striking and caught my attention during a time that I was experiencing a lot of stress at home. (Can you guess who is the tree and who is the forest?)

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Sometimes the statement 'less is better' applies here. No one wants to hear about your personal baggage, but everybody knows what it is like to feel isolated. So I try to make a more universal statement rather than a personal one. For example: This photograph reminds me of what it feels like to be the only optimist in a room filled with realists. Enough said.

I might add a little meat to the opening line by talking about what lead me to take the photograph:

I was driving down a country road alone and looked to my left and saw this image. I knew I had to stop and capture it with my camera.

So, there you have a simple example of how to get the juices flowing, explore ideas and in the end pull it altogether with a story and a universal statement that all people can relate to. Good luck writing about your photographs and always be inspired in everything you do!


jasmine on May 02, 2016:

great work

kat1980 on October 11, 2012:

Hi Robin, I like the idea if adding a story to my photographs, nice idea.

Robin Anderson (author) from United States on November 13, 2011:

Hyphenbird -- This was our first attempt. Thanks. I am a big list maker.

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on November 12, 2011:

Hi Robin. This is great information for Hubbers who take their own photographs. I suppose for anyone who publishes their photography will benefit. I like the idea of making the lists as you show. That is very creative. Thanks for the tips.

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