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  1. #1
    SchwinnParamount's Avatar
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    Photograph titles

    I don't know about anybody else... I've always avoided titling my photographs. It seems silly and redundant. Shouldn't the photograph speak for itself? I display a photograph and expect the viewer to interpret it however they choose. My impressions of the photograph are pretty much irrelevant to this viewer. Does a title attempt to impose my interpretation on the viewer?

    For an example, a picture of a cloud is clearly a cloud and nothing else. If I had to title it then I'd call it 'Cloud' or maybe 'Rain Cloud' A title like '...waiting to get soaked' or some other cutesy/cheesy title would merely demean the work.

    Do you title your photographs? If so, what is your motivation? What are you trying to convey that the photograph doesn't already convey?

  2. #2
    Andy K's Avatar
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    Generally I do not title my photographs. The only place I do, is in the APUG galleries. I just figured it was the done thing.


    -----------My Flickr-----------
    Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.

  3. #3
    juan's Avatar
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    We had a thread on this a couple of years ago. My photo club had just held a critique of just photographs alone - no title cards. Some of the judges really had a hard time commenting because without the title, they didn't know what they were supposed to look at. From that, I realized that a lot of people, even judges, look for photographs of "things" and that photographs of subjects such as texture or relationships, etc. are beyond them. Thus, a name may detract from what one is trying to convey.

    I began giving my photographs names based on random Chinese words generated by a computer as a way to avoid giving a "thing" in the photo a name. Then I ran into someone who spoke Chinese who tried to make the Chinese name meaningful.

    I've since reverted to just a place name and date - Dutton Island Preserve, May 2005 - for instance.
    juan

  4. #4
    Paul Sorensen's Avatar
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    I do title them, but I do what you are talking about, I make minimalist titles that identify the image without interpreting it. The only exception so far is the one in my gallery that is a night shot with a swimmer in a river. Frankly, if I didn't do something about it, I think people would miss the swimmer and that is the most interesting part of the photo. Otherwise, it is "Hood" "Backstage" "Rocks" etc. I agree that I don't want to have titles that are cutesy or try to interpret the photo. I have a friend who had a show and one of her pieces was a photo off of a ruin in Mexico and the sky was very interesting, clouds that were kind of eye shaped. She titled it "The Eye of God." That actually really ruined the experience of the photograph for me.

  5. #5
    Charles Webb's Avatar
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    I have no problem with titling a photograph. I don't think it in any way demeans an image. There are far less knowledgable viewers than on this list that may view a photograph that have no clue what the photographer is trying to convey. ( At times my self included! ) I really cannot understand why one would want to avoid titling any photographic image. When I view a photograph that is not titled I have the feeling that the photographer himself is not completely aware why he/she made the image in the first place. To not title also gives me the impression that the original thought process behind making the image was/is so shallow that the maker is totally unsure of his/her ability, or can't come up with a name, so why should I waste my time looking at his/her work. It is a personal thing, I don't believe you are right or wrong by not conveying some of your thought process in an images title, but I most certainly think it adds to the viewing experience to think that the photographer thought enough of an image to give it a name. I am not fond of the terminology "cheezy" or "cutsy" titles but to me any title is better than no title at all. A title to me in no way conveys any information on how I will interpret an image, the content alone may or may not do that. The title is only the name of the work presented.
    This is my opinion.................Yes I title my photographs!

  6. #6
    wfe
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    Some I do and some I don't. If I make an image that resonates very strongly with me and a title comes to mind that I feel is appropraite, I use it otherwise I don't title it. I don't believe in titles just for the sake of having one.
    ~Bill
    "Real Art is a Thin Breath Exhaled Amidst a Struggle in the Mind"
    Fine Art and Portraits

  7. #7
    Paul Sorensen's Avatar
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    Thanks Charles. I appreciate hearing a well argued difference of opinion to mine. At this time I am not changing my approach, but I will certainly think about it some more.

    Paul.

  8. #8
    SchwinnParamount's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Webb
    I have no problem with titling a photograph. I don't think it in any way demeans an image. There are far less knowledgable viewers than on this list that may view a photograph that have no clue what the photographer is trying to convey. ( At times my self included! ) ... It is a personal thing, I don't believe you are right or wrong by not conveying some of your thought process in an images title... A title to me in no way conveys any information on how I will interpret an image, the content alone may or may not do that. The title is only the name of the work presented.
    This is my opinion.................Yes I title my photographs!
    I've always felt that viewing a photograph and attaching meaning is far too subjective and personal for an imposed title to have any meaning. I know what my photograph means to me but you may look at my picture and see something entirely different. In that case, do you really care what I think it means?

    I certainly agree with you that a phtograph title should name a work and give it a unique identifier. As to conveying meaning? we'll have to amicably agree to disagree.

  9. #9
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    I like factual titles--the location of a landscape, the name or initials of a portrait subject, the things pictured in a still life. This sort of title gets the obvious "what is that?" questions out of the way, so the viewer can see the photograph.

    I hate emotive titles. If the photograph can't convey the emotion, then a title like "Intensity" or "Beautiful" just makes things worse.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  10. #10
    Andy K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
    I like factual titles--the location of a landscape, the name or initials of a portrait subject, the things pictured in a still life. This sort of title gets the obvious "what is that?" questions out of the way, so the viewer can see the photograph.

    I hate emotive titles. If the photograph can't convey the emotion, then a title like "Intensity" or "Beautiful" just makes things worse.
    I don't dislike titles, its just that before I joined APUG I had never given thought to titling any of my photographs. If I do so now I try to keep the title relevent to the image.
    When I see a photograph called 'Untitled', as we frequently do in the galleries, then I have to say it is not so easy to decide what the photographer is/was trying to convey (if indeed they are trying to 'convey' anything!). A titled photo gives me at least an idea of the thinking behind the photo, even if (only very rarely) the word pretentious flashes through my mind, for example when I see titles such as those David has mentioned above. (I just looked through my own photos on APUG, I reckon 'pretentious' might apply to one or two of my own, but hey, I'm still learning, lol!)


    -----------My Flickr-----------
    Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.

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