Exercise – Captions

This exercise looks at how text can enhance a story either by providing extra factual information or via ambiguous messages leading the reader to make their own judgement of the meaning behind the image.

“Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” (Twain)

I choose two pictures from a local newspaper while on holiday in Iceland. As I could not interpret any of the text there was nothing to influence or support my analysis.


My captions
Relay:   “Mr Sigurdsson, aged 80, revisits his family farm”.
This text allows the reader some flexibility to build a bigger picture, add context through imagination and invent their own interpretation hence ‘The death of the author, the birth of the reader’ (Barthes).

Anchor: “Angry local resident  finds more rusting junk dumped on his land”
This caption gives out a strong, clear message and pushes the reader towards supporting the resident’s concerns. On reading this narrative one accepts the context, even though it remains unclear and unconfirmed.

“….the anchorage may be ideological and indeed this is its principal function; the text directs the reader through the signifieds of the image, causing him to avoid some and receive others; by means of an often subtle dispatching, It remote-controls him towards a meaning chosen in advance”. (Barthes, p.39)

Other potential captions
 Farmer supports clean up campaign. (anchor)
– Mr Sigurdsson elected to head up the design of the new concert hall. (anchor)
– “I’m not retiring just yet”, says local business man. (relay)
– Great Grandfather wins award. (relay)


My captions
Relay:  Long, dry summer for the “Land of Fire and Ice”
The reader can study the picture and decide what impact the weather is having or will have on the different aspects within the scene and outside the frame.

Anchor: Historical landmark collapses.
This text goes straight for the main subject portrayed in the frame – honing in on the rusting jetty. The text accompanying the image has the power to encourage or entice the reading public into taking some sort of action.

Other potential captions
– Drought: water level hits all time low at vital reservoir. (anchor)
– Jetty left to rot. (anchor)
– Locals flock to bathe in surreal landscape (anchor)
– Award winning architects submit plans for new resort. (relay)

Barthes, R (1977). Rhetoric of the Image  Image Music Text. Fontana Press. London
Twain, M.  http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/807622 [accessed 7th July 2016].