Numbering Objects in Titles

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Shawn Dougherty, Jan 24, 2007.

  1. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

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    I've been thinking about this lately... I'm sure we've all seen the "12 Posts" or "7 Rocks" pictures out there. They are in no short supply. At first I dismissed this as cheese, though the photographs are often anything but... On second thought I must admit to counting those objects when numbered, it's almost impossible for me not to.

    Now I'm wondering, does this take away from the image by changing the focus to specific objects within the photograph, when generally, the photographs with these names are minimalistic and more about the organization of tone and form? OR Does it simply stop the passerby/non-artist/layman and offer them another way into the sometimes esoteric world of fine art photography? After all, if you're counting objects then you're engrossed in the photograph in at least one way, and it may lead to other discoveries...

    I haven't really formed an opinion and am curious what others think.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 24, 2007
  2. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Shawn,

    I think you're probably right. Fascinating idea!

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  3. joshverd

    joshverd Member

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    I don't like 'em.

    I think titles are something to put thought into, not just objectify whats obvious. I can count the damn posts if I want to, but wheres the emotion in that?

    Good titles can change a good photograph into a great experience, and transport the viewer into timelessness.

    Josh
     
  4. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Once upon a time, there was an entry in the Eurovision Song Contest called "99 Luftballons". I tend to place anything with that kind of title in that same category. I may miss out on some great pictures (and songs) that way, but at least I'm spared a lot of drivel! :tongue:
     
  5. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Sorry to disagree Ole, but I remember that song too - it was very popular over here, in both English and German versions. I enjoyed the German version best, but that may be due to the fact that I basically don't understand any German:D .

    Come to think of it though, it might have something to do with the Video of the song, and the lead singer, and the fact that I was single at the time ...... no, that couldn't be it, could it?:smile:

    Matt
     
  6. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    I agree with your assessment. A title, or the lack of one, can fundamentally change the way a photograph is viewed. Sometimes when I am looking at photographs I try to not read the titles on the first pass and then go around again reading the titles to see how it changes my perceptions. I'm usually surprised at least once in any given exhibition on that second pass.

    - Randy
     
  7. eddym

    eddym Member

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    I don't know... Did anybody really listen to Paul Simon sing "50 ways to leave your lover" and try to count them?
     
  8. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    If I use a title like "Three Snags" it is because it makes it easier to tell it (from the title only) from a photograph called "Two Snags" . No big deal.

    Since my titles are not on the front of the mat, the title does not influence the viewer, so again no big deal.

    If the photo is in a show and there is a lable with the title below the print, typically, the viewer sees the image first from a distance, perhaps moves in for closer lok, then looks at the lable with the title. The first impression is already made before knowing the title, so yet again, no big deal.

    Hopefully, finding out the title adds to the impression that the viewer already has of the photograph. If the viewer has a bias against certain types of titles, that's his/her problem...no big deal.

    Vaughn
     
  9. joshverd

    joshverd Member

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    How about taking the time to make a thoughtful title?...no big deal.
     
  10. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    If a thoughtful title adds to the work, great. My usual subject is the light on the landscape. "Thoughtful" titles would be rather contrived artifacts for much of my work.

    You seem to be saying I should create special unique titles for every photograph. Not something I agree with. I photographic under the Redwoods a lot, quite a bit over the last 25 years...I can only use such titles as "Monarch of the Forest" , "Fallen Warriors" and "Ancient Giants" so many times!:wink:

    As I wrote in another post somewhere... a title can add to a photograph as hand gestures add to a conversation.

    "Good titles can change a good photograph into a great experience, and transport the viewer into timelessness."

    I agree, but a thoughtful title is not always needed to do the same thing...sometimes the image is enough. And sometimes a thoughtful title can limit the viewer's experience...to channel the viewer's experience into the narrow confines of the phtographer's thought.

    Just think how sad it would be if the artist of the Mona Lisa had included a title that expressed why she was smiling! All the wonder of that smile would be gone.

    Vaughn
     
  11. Struan Gray

    Struan Gray Member

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    One of the most famous and influential of early abstract paintings was called "Eight Red Rectangles". For me at least it is a literally amazing feat, a creation of something out of nothing. One aspect of the amazement is the contrast between the breath of experience the painting offers and the minimal means it uses to accomplish its aims. The title pulls the same trick in language, or at least, highlights this aspect with its own inadequacy as a description.

    The red rectangles are safely in the canon of Western art history. Whether you agree with me or not about their effect and greatness, you cannot deny their inflluence.

    The number of objects titles are now so widespread in photography that there are certainly many photographers who use them without any desire to identify with - to them - obscure Russian painters. But I can't believe that someone like Michael Kenna is unaware of the history of the genre, and I can't believe that when he titles a photo n-birds or m-posts he is not also signposting the inadequacy of literal description, i.e. he is suggesting the viewer try a more poetic, associative response, and not merely inviting them to get out a magnifying glass and tally stick.
     
  12. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    I think evocotive titles usually come off as pretentious. To me, thye usually distract from the image and seem to be an attempt help the image accomplish something the photography has failed to do.
     
  13. joshverd

    joshverd Member

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    The ones that make you realize they are provocative are failed titles themselves.

    Just because it has been done poorly a thousand times doesn't take anything away from the validity of a good, thoughtful title.
     
  14. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    It would help e to understand if you could give me some examples of well titled photographs.
     
  15. donbga

    donbga Member

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    YATTI!
     
  16. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    Hmm?
     
  17. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    On other hand, I've always scatched my head in wonderment whenever I see a photograph with the title: "Untitled".

    It's always amazed me how no two of them look the same! :D