Sunday, March 20, 2011

[Question] What do you find more interesting a well told story or a stunning pic in your caps?

Do I have to choose one or the other?

What do you find more interesting a well told story or a stunning pic in your caps?

This is a question from Alectra (if you haven't stopped by her blog 'Alectra's Playgrounds' then I suggest you drop on by and enjoy her wonderful caps!), and this is NOT an easy question for me!

I guess I can take "your caps" in two ways.  In caps that I create, or in caps that I receive.  I'll try to tackle both, as they are slightly different.

First off, I think a caption is a marriage between the pic and the story.  To be a 'good' cap I think both the pic ans the story have to be strong.  A great image without the story, is just a jumping off point to your imagination.  It may be art, but it isn't a cap.  A great story without the pic, is another jumping off point to your imagination.  It may be literature, but it isn't a cap.  Both can be ruined in a cap with a weak partner.  A stunning image with a badly constructed and uninteresting story is a bad cap.  A wonderful story with a dull lifeless image is also a bad cap.

So the easiest (and cheapest) answer would be: Both!

But I don't like cheap answers.  So I'll start with caps that I receive.  I am a very visual person.  I have a degree in photography (fat bunch of use that was getting a steady job!), and have worked for many years with both photography and digital manipulation.  As such, I really can't stand bad photography.  I try not to be a snob in any area of my life, but I just hate bad photography.  Subject, focus, depth of field, framing, lighting, color, saturation, and many more things go into a good photograph.  And if any of these things are 'off', then it can go from great to awful quicker than a camera's shutter.

I think it all starts when I see the cap.  Lets face it, on the Haven you see a small thumbnail of the image before you read anything about it (except maybe for the title, and artist).  Even on blogs, where the thumbnail image is much larger, you still see the pic before you read the story.  So it sets up the basic emotion of the cap.  Is it Sexy?  Surprised?  Horrified?  Beautiful?  Mysterious?  That all hits you before you read word one.  

Before I go further, I do want to say that Bad is Bad, and will always be Bad, and will always be unacceptable.  The best pic in the world when coupled with a bad story is a bad cap no matter how much effort was put into it.

That being said if I had the choice of an average story with a great pic, or a great story with an average pic, I would have to choose the former.  I can always 'pump up' the story in my head and add details or even re-writes to make it fit the image, so long as the story doesn't just stink.

Now when I create a cap, the first thing I try to do (I'm not always successfull) is to match up my subjects wishes.  I'll use Martha as an example here.  Her preferences clearly state "the more amateur looking the better".  Amateur or 'snapshot' images aren't my bag.  But I try to work that into a cap for Martha because I'm not working for my bag, I'm working for hers.  I think I did that in the last cap I made for her "Fantasies Fulfilled".  it is a snapshot image and lacks that 'studio' feel.  But sometimes I fail even there.... in the cap I made for her "Perchance to Dream?" I have a very polished studio style image.

But in both examples I still find the pic to be a 'good' pic.  Fantasies Fulfilled is a 'snapshot' and lacks good lighting, and depth of field, but the expression on her face is just pure awesome.  But when I make a cap, I really shudder when I write a shoddy story.  I try my best to wrap up my subjects preferences into a story that both feels real, and emotional.  If I miss that mark, but have it paired up with a stunning image, I feel that I failed.

Now when I start a cap, I try to always start with the image.  So I feel that I rarely have a 'bad' pic to go along with a good story.  More often than not, I have a good pic to go along with an average or even bad story.  Those are my failures.

So when I am capping I would rather have an interesting well told story over a stunning pic.

I think thats what drives me on to keep working on caps.  While I will always work on my photography and imaging skills, I believe I reached my talent plateau years ago.  I'm not trying to be a snob... I really wish my skills were better, and find my work fairly average.  But I have only been writing stories like this for a few years.  I believe my skill is continuing to improve, and I see improvements cap by cap.  I don't know where my story telling plateau is, and I want to continue to work at finding it.

But both receiving and giving caps, I always strive for the perfect balance between the two.  I want an interesting well told story AND a stunning pic!

Thanks for the question Alectra.  This was a real 'thinker' for me.  I hadn't ordered my internal thoughts about this, and putting them down in words, helps me realize my own internal desires and workings!

How about everyone else?  How would you answer this fine question?


  1. A good picture is indeed worth a thousand words, but the right dozen words in a captian can be worth more.
    So yes, the best answer is Both.

  2. What a deepful and thoughtful answer Caitlyn, i know understand better that a cap doesn't need to have a great pic with a dull story or viceversa :3 you have to catch the timing, to be honest my first caps were worked over the pic, then i tried to tell a story with what i had, later when asking some good captioners i learnt a bit more and tried to do it doing a good story then working in the pic, but then again sometimes you have to be very picky on that and i have learnt that sometimes you could have the most awesome story but the pic doesn't much, your comment really had help me out on that question thanks
    Hugs and Kisses Alectra

  3. Once again, it is different for me, depending on if the caption is FOR me, or made by me for someone else.

    When making a caption, 99 percent of the time, I have the image first, and that is what tells me the story. If the picture doesn't give me something to work with, then it is NOT a good picture and would never be used. Because of that, the picture always is "good" since it is what "created" the story I am crafting. I can work with a picture that has a watermark or fix some of the issues it has through photoshop: if it is THAT bad, I would just pass on using it. Then it is just a matter of making the story come out the way I want it to be.

    When receiving a caption, I would rather them focus on the story. Its another reason why I will offer pictures for people to use. I already know I like them, and I get pleasure from seeing how they will craft a story around what I've provided. I do want to see a marriage between the story and image though. Writing a story and slapping some random porno shot from brazzers is not going to excite me when it arrives in my trading folder.

  4. There's no question I love beautiful pics. Like you, I'm not much for amateur style snapshots, but every so often you come across one that works. I prefer the posed or more professional style pictures - for myself and others. Still, I'll do what's needed if it works for the person I'm making captions for.

    I share your preference for a great story. A solid picture just starts the motor, but the story can take you flying! Dee is an example of this; the caption she made for me recently was beautiful not only because of the stunning picture, but the writing was some of my favorite work from her. I was blown away but the combination.

    Solid to great writing shows a care and thoughtfulness that weak writing can't convey. fictional writing is very much like painting a great picture the difference is you have to vividly display the ideas you want to get across in your words instead of a paintbrush.