Part Two: The Narrative

Project 2 Image and text

Exercise: Cut out some pictures from a newspaper and write your own captions.

  • How do the words you put next to the image contextualise/re-contextualise it?
  • How many meanings can you give to the same picture?

 Try the same exercise for both anchoring and relaying. Blog about it.


Anchor – In news stories the text that accompanies pictures is usually there to control meaning – to stop the image from being interpreted in a manner that isn’t in keeping with the political views of the newspaper, for example. In advertising this type of anchoring text is used to fix the meaning of the image into one clear and distinct message (i.e. why you should buy this product).

Relay – In the second definition the text has equal status with the image. Image and text bounce off each other to create a fuller picture that allows for ambiguity and various interpretations. This is more in line with a postmodern view of narrative.

I took these pictures from the BBC news online 23.12.16


Original text: “Only three passengers on BA flight enjoy champagne and selfies” 

This is an example of an anchor text, another that recontextualises it could be “Girls perform as well as boys on flight simulators”. A relay text could be “Girls on tour”.



Original text “Queen and duke begin festive break at Sandringham”. This is an anchor text, to recontextualise it another could be “Royals waste money flying to Windsor when they could go by car”. A relay text could be “Helicopter spotted flying close to the Palace”.



Original text “Mixed fortunes in the world of clowning”. I think this is a relay text as it is slightly ambiguous. An anchor text could be “Recent clowning scares reduce bookings for professional clowns”.



Original text “Man throws a child in the air before she takes part in a dance competition”. This is an anchor text which is important as this picture is quite ambiguous. Another anchor text could be “Safety fears for under age performers”. A relay text could be “The sky’s the limit!”



Original text “Smartphone toilet paper’ at Tokyo airport”.

This is an anchor text, another recontextualising it could be “Japan the first country to provide toilet paper in two sizes”. A relay text could be “Time to reflect when on the loo”.



Original text “Busiest day of festive season expected on UK’s roads”. This is an anchor text, another putting it in another context could be “Half of drivers use headlights in daylight”. I found it hard to think of a relay text as it is an ambiguous picture but one could be “No place for pedestrians”.

This exercise has made me look much closer at the meaning and reasons for the captions accompanying images. Certainly looking at news online photos most seem to be anchor texts, it would be unusual to invite ambiguity in a news story. I would image that there would be greater use of relay texts in creative situations such as arts magazines and reviews.