Those glorious, glossy magazines I’m so fortunate to write for, are often left unread. Oh, I look through them; every page, in fact. I begin with the cover, reading the captions of what lies within. They pique my interest and I get all giddy knowing what’s to come. But then, I get stuck studying the cover shot for every detail. As I crack open the mag, I find myself staring at the photos. Often, I’ll start a story, only to be drawn back to the pics. They mesmerize me. However, religiously, I read the photo captions.
If the caption hints to something the photo doesn’t explain, I go back to the story to find out more. But I realize there are many times, a photo caption doesn’t give enough details and I find out later, when talking with friends, I may have missed the gist of the entire story.
During a recent trip to Des Moines, meeting with James Baggett, editor of Country Gardens magazine talked about writing captions. He said, generally too many captions are written as an afterthought. His advice to me was to give my captions as much thought as the featured piece. He’s right. I should know; there are others out there, like me, reading the captions and nothing else.
This has changed as I mashed my read more do-over button. I want to learn more from the story than the pretty pictures tell. I want to learn form the experiences featured in the story. That’s what it’s really about. If I read more, I might learn not to make the same mistakes, or even better, learn the root of their inspiration, sparking my own. And I want the pictures too.
By reading the entire story, I not only get to see the pretty pictures and glean the story from the captions, but I get to understand the rest of the story. So, the next time I’m with friends, I can say, “Wasn’t it amazing how that gal from Raleigh managed to anchor 20 foot tall tri-fold mirrors, made from old Church windows originally from Canada, but found at a Georgia garage sale, where she traded out the clear panes with mirrors and place on a stone stand in her Raleigh back garden?” Then it will be my friends saying to me, “What? I missed that, I thought it was just a neat idea about reuse.”