Making the case for robust image descriptions on social media

Making the case for robust image descriptions on social media

I have noticed a trend with many photographers when sharing their images on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Depending on the forum you are posting to, you may include some technical information on the image or maybe just a catchy title. All too often however, photographers just post the image and move on – leaving the viewer to figure out the rest. Images should stand on their own, but when you take the time to include information about the image, it helps you to connect with the people viewing your images.

When I post a photo, I generally take a few moments to mention something about the image. Sometimes this includes camera settings, but often, I post why I like the photo and where it was taken. This gives your viewers more ownership over the time they are spending when looking at your image and can lead to interaction. Images that I post without a description often just get a “nice” or “beautiful” response, but when I take the time to talk about where I took the photo or something of general interest about the subject, I find the likelihood of social interaction increases exponentially. Think about this: when you post that landscape or model image it generally gets lost in the shuffle with everything else being posted to the forum, but more social interaction such as comments or questions on your photo can cause the image to be shown higher in the listing and potentially get more eyes in front of your work.

Along with placement higher in the listings, adding robust image descriptions can let those who are visually impaired enjoy your work, rather than just scrolling by. Alt text and image descriptions are available on every social media and photography platform. Taking the time to write meaningful descriptions of the image can yield a larger audience for your work.

Activate Image Descriptions

To get you started, here is a link to an article on Netnaturalist, on adding image descriptions to your Twitter and Facebook posts. The article can be found at:

Writing the Descriptions

When writing the text for your images, consider the subject matter and add appropriate length descriptions. If the image you are describing is of something simple, like a Corvette in a garage, use a small amount of text. (ID: is the usual way of letting the user know this is an image description)

ID: A blue 1986 corvette sits in the middle of a cluttered garage. The car is shiny and looks well-kept.

If the image you are describing is of a landscape or similar complex scene, look at the image, then close your eyes and think about how you would describe that image to someone on the phone, for example:

ID: The sun is setting at the beach on a cool fall evening. Fiery reds and warm orange colors from the sunset can be seen in the clouds as the sky darkens. Soft waves lap the vacant beach as seagulls forage near the waterline. You should feel like you can close your eyes and imagine the scene before you.  

Doesn’t that sound better than “beach sunset” as a description? Make sure you touch on each important part of the image in your description so the viewer can build a picture in their mind of what the scene looks like. Take the time to covers the sky, the subject, and the colors in the image. If the photo is of a person, describe their face, their hair and eyes. Feel free to include what the person is wearing.  

Added benefits

I have found when I take the time to write descriptions of my photos, I appreciate the work more as well. I also have found myself noticing problems with an image that I had not noticed when doing my initial edits. Writing about your images will also help you to become more detailed about describing your work to others in conversation. This simple exercise can really change the way you talk about your work with others.  

If you exhibit your work like I do, it is necessary to come up with titles for each of the photos you show. The process of creating detailed descriptions of my work often make it easier for me to decide on a clear and appropriate title for the photos.

I hope you found this brief introduction to image descriptions interesting, I love to hear from my readers, feel free to connect with me on social media at:

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