I believe (from the little I read about this) that this subject depends on the way we look at art. And there are currently two main streams: if you are a post-modernist, you won't give a title to your image, because you don't want to transmit a specific message, but only to start some kind of thought/feeling process in the viewer, without caring if it resembles your own as the author. If you are a modernist, you have a specific message you want to convey, and therefor, you put a title, and maybe even give a short description (as in most of Sebastião Salgado's work - to give an extreme example). I try to define very well what I want to express with the photos I make, but I'm not saying it is easy. But I certainly don´t like the idea of leaving the interpretation to the viewer.
Oh man... this is something that has had me ranting the other day! All I have to say is two words and a puntuation mark: P***O.net...
I just love the people there with some of the most contrived, pseudo-intellectual, blow-hard titles...
My favorites are the nudes - there will be a naked girl on a bed (well done or not - 'tis not the issue here) and a title like:
Fear and expectations.
And no, I don't buy that the "artist" is trying to convey anything - its usually just the same naked woman as the same person posts in a dozen other photographs, on the same bed or next to a wall or whatever, with the same expression.
I also think that people with the "blue #1" or "purple #5" titles are often trying for something that their work alone does not accomplish.
Personally, I add titles that are factual or sometimes humorous - but mainly because the gallery format on the web led me to it. Sometimes its funny. Sometimes its not. Perhaps there is someone on a different forum ranting about me and my titles
Let me try to respond, one question at a time. All answers are to be considered particularly my own, with NO allusion to any sort of "ultimate truth".
Originally Posted by SchwinnParamount
I do title my work, at times. Not invariably.
The only motivation I have is the classic. ever-present "making it WORK" .. and I'll accept/ grab/ steal - if need be - all the help I can get to that end (note 1).
The "experincer" WILL ultimately interpret the work in any manner they choose - or are compelled to - by their own sets of values, preconditioning, vision, emotions. I don't think that influencing that interpretation is necessarily off-limits. It is OK to lead - I NEVER want to force.
Possibly, a test would be to consider some of the significant works - Do we recognize them from their titles? Edward Weston's Nude - THE nude, where she is, more or less "curled up" .. I'm fairly sure that DOES have a title, but I can never recall what it is; Adam's "Moonrise ..." - I immediately "see" that image, although I can't remember the entire title (.."over Heranadez"..?).
Renoir's "Torse au Soleil" - works brilliantly in French - and to me fails miserably in English, as "Torso in Sunlight".
When I visit a gallery, I find it useful to use a two-stage approach - first, I'll view the works without using the program containing titles and description of the works; then I will return and consider them WITH the use of the program. Sometimes, I will see the works differently, sometimes not.
That "My impressions are pretty much irrelevant to the viewer ..."
I cannot disagree, or take exception to that, - I can only say that my impressions are all-important to the WORK. Hopefully the viewer will understand and "see" them in the same light as I do. That is why I do what I do.
IMHO, the title, or absence of a title, is part of the Aesthetic. I don't have formulae, or explanation for them ... no more than I do for anything else of "What WORKS, and what doesn't".
Note 1: Well, almost steal. Not to the point of plagarism.
Ed Sukach, FFP.
Ed - Don't worry about plagarism. Remember, if your photograph is in a different format, then it's not plagarism.
Weston numbered his photographs. I'll bet the one you describe is Nude, #227. That method worked for him, but that's only because he was a great photographer.
I find titling cumbersome and a pain, so I usually try to limit the titles to a short description a la Goldfarb.
This is sort of a pet peeve of mine, so I'll give my 2 cents. I really dislike titles, especially 'intrepretative'. If I saw a nude with the title 'Emptiness' on it, I'd leave the show and not look back. Any 'factual' title, I believe should be placed on the reverse of the mount. The only thing I expect to see on the front is the image and a signature, and it's ok with me if the signature isn't there. The image should stand on it's own and the viewer should not be led into any specific intrepretation by a descriptive title. If it's factual (like, 'Rock 1997'), well that can just as easily be on the back - I can probably use 3% of my brain and figure out that it's a rock and who cares when it was shot?
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
One of the fabulous things about being 53 is....I'll be making some photograph that's going to make my name a household word and I've already got this great Ansel Adams-esque title in my head before the shutter is tripped. But not to worry because I can never remember any of them later when the photo is developed. One other problem with titles is.........I know this picture had a title but what the hell was it........Oh never mind, just tag another one to it instead. I refuse to get anal worrying about it.
Can anyone explain the minor convention (perhaps more common in other modern art forms besides photography, but I see it here too) of calling something "Untitled" and then following it with a title in parenthesis? I occasionally come across titles along the lines of "Untitled (Ineluctable Blue Innuendo XVII)" or some such thing. Is there an understood meaning here, such as that the artist didn't have a title in mind but gallery owners or art collectors have since given the work a nickname? I ask because in many cases it seems as though the artist actually titled the thing "Untitled (Ineluctable Blue Innuendo XVII)" from the start, which strikes me as pretense to the point of self-parody. Perhaps the latter evolved from the former?
[QUOTE=Reid Gray]Can anyone explain the minor convention (perhaps more common in other modern art forms besides photography, but I see it here too) of calling something "Untitled" and then following it with a title in parenthesis?
The title in parenthesis is added by the gallery / museum in these cases. Raymond Pettibon never titles his work but the gallery or museum showing his work will use the text in his image as the title...I think Garry Winogrand's work was always untitled, and galleries will add the place and date to the title, i.e. "Untitled (New York, 1964)."
I'm absolutely HORRIBLE at coming up with titles for mine. But some images seem to earn them. And "untitled" seems more pretentious to me than a cutesy name.
In the camera club I'm in, we're supposed to give ours titles, but they only read the title after the judge has scored it and given comments.
i always title my images, sometimes just place and date and other times very basic in regard to how i interpret the image
i don't want to tell the viewer how to interpret the image but i do want the viewer to know i value it and am proud to put it out there
the subject, as presented by me, should be obvious without a title, if it is not then the image is not successfully conveying my message and for me is not a 'good' picture