Captions for Slide Labels

If you want to see your slides published, it makes little sense to write "Rabbit" or "Lion" on the frame. The picture editor can see that without the caption and does'nt do a thing for anyone.

The more pecise and extensive you can inform the picture editor, agency or photo assistants, the better. The more informative and extensive the text on the slide frame is, the more interesting and expressive the caption for the picture will be.

Since photographers more or less have a short term memory, it would be advisable to label the slides immediately after you get them back from developing. It is very important, while taking the picture to gather as much information as possible. While working in different countries, perhaps even national parks, you should try and note the different names of plants, trees and animals. It is much more difficult after you have returned home.

If possible, try and find the names in Latin as well as in English where you are taking the picture. Since this business is international, you should provide the agencies with the German (or French or Swedish...), Latin and English names.

With big game and birds it is relatively easy to find the German, English and Latin names of an animal, but do you find the English name for mushrooms, i.e. the "Beringter Buchenschleimrübling'. or the many different kinds in the family of dragonflies, trees, gras and bugs? There is a little trick: allmost all of the german field guides are translations out of the English language and there is an original version with the English names of most Parey and BLV field guides for european Spiders or butterflies. So if you happen to buy Parey's guide for flowers, you'd find the original English terminology and the original publisher in London in the impressum, in the front of the book. You have all the terms you're looking for in the original language, if you get these books. Of course this counts for other languages as well. If you find it necessary to aquire the names in French or Swedish for a good customer from that country, then you buy the Swedish or French translation of the original titels in English.

Personally, I tend to use five lines to label my slides: On the first and second line, I put the animal or plant name in three languages, as well as any other special remarks I have about what happend as I was taking the shot (that is, if something happend). On the third line I put the location and month when the picture was taken.
On the fourth line, I put a marker which states that this is an original photograph, so that no one can come up with the idea, that the picture has been manipulated or that it is a digital composition (one mouseclick and truth becomes a lie?) and the copyright sign with the year it was taken, so that the legal basis is set in view of the limitation period of the copyright on the picture.
On the fifth line I put the remark that it is "a genuine document of and from nature" (if it really is, otherwise the remark "captive" or "wild" would be added). The genuine document of nature is, in my eyes, the "premium class" of nature photography and should be aimed for at all times, if only for the joy of the "real thing'. that only photographers can explain when capturing such a shot.

The first word on the first line is written in capital letters and half bold size 6 type: the second, third and fourth line in size 6 type as well, and the fifth line in size 5 type to make the whole sentence fit onto the line. I choose the UNIVERS type lettering since it seems to be the clearest for me. If I have more to write, I use ARIAL, and if I have an extremely large amount of writing, I use TIMES NEW ROMAN, which enables me to put 30% more writing onto the label.

There are many print programs for labels available and if you already have one which suits you, stick with it. Otherwise, I would like to recommend a special slide label program called "Cradoc Caption Writer", which you can order from ABODIA, Bonacker GmbH in Bremen in Germany (Tel. +49-421 658570, Fax: +49-421 6585723, or www or in America by: Perfect Niche Software, Inc., 6962 E. First Av., Suite 103. Scottsdale, AZ 85251, USA.


Above, for example, a pair of books from the great number of field guides about flora and fauna. On the left the original English copy of a field guide on Insects of Central Europe and to the right the German translation. This can be easily used to help find the English names, since the Latin names are identical in both books.

Here are four examples of how I normally arrange my slide labels. After the return from one of my photo trips, I usually bring back about 100 developed films which are about 3.500 slides. 2.500 are normally waste, 200 I keep for myself and 800 are sent to my agencies, who do not really want to see the address of the photographer on the slide frame, so the name can only be printed as seen above.

Of course since you do want put your address on the slides in your private archive so that the customer knows where to send the borrowed slides back to, you actually should have to work with two differently captioned labels. One without the address for the agencies and one with the address for those that end up in your private archive. Since it is too bothersome for me to work with two different types of slide labels, I only work with captioned labels for the agencies and just put a second label onto the 200 that I put into my own archive. This brings two advantages, first you can be a lot more explicit with fax and website, and second, you can also use these slides for agencies from time to time. You just put a blank label over the bottom one and you have a slide, with slideframe captions, that meet the agencies needs. On the other hand, you can take slides which are returned from the agencies and place an additional label on the bottom frame and it fits into your private archive without problems