How to write a cutline
A cutline is the caption near a photograph in a newspaper. It informs the reader of who, what, when, where, and why or how about the photograph. Because photographs depict events frozen in time, the first sentence of a cutline is always written in the present tense. Additional sentences can be written in present or past tense depending on a publication's style preferences (I prefer past tense for explanation).
A standard cutline is written as such:
(Noun) (verb) (direct object) during (proper event name) at (proper noun location) in (city) on (day of the week), (month) (date), (year). Why or How.
Dallas firefighters (noun) battle (present-tense verb) a fire (direct object) at the Fitzhugh Apartments (proper noun location) near the intersection of Fitzhugh Avenue and Monarch Street in Dallas (city) on Thursday (day of the week), July (month) 1 (date), 2004 (year).
In our photo department, we're allowed an average of 15 minutes to prep ("turn out") each image. This includes scanning, toning, color corrections and cutlines. If two images are selected at the desk, they expect to be checking cutlines on the completed images in 30 minutes.
In reality, we often have less than five minutes to get the entire shoot turned out. PJ students should work on their deadline typing speed and accuracy before they're covered in water, sweat, mud, blood and smell like an old chimney.
When writing cutlines for portraits, don't get tricky and get in trouble. Write the facts.
"(Noun) poses for a portrait ..."
As long as the original cutline is 100 percent accurate, the PJ has a job the next day. Leave the cutline changes to the section and copy editors. If they wish to change something, it becomes their problem. The correction also becomes their problem.
There is no compassion or understanding extended to neophyte PJs for factual errors in cutlines. Be as accurate as possible on everything known to be a fact. If it's not a confirmed fact, don't include it in the cutline. Phones and Google are ways to confirm facts – use them.
Enough for now,