Aspicus and the Art of Photography

From Snapper to Shooter (hopefully)

Aspicus and the Art of Titling Photographs

While loading up images from today’s shooting onto this blog and onto Flickr, I realised how difficult it is to give a photograph a good name.  I’m learning in the OCA TAOP course about the elements of composition, how they balance and so on, but I doubt that this course (or any other) really covers what to call your images.

For example, here is an image I took today of a tree.  It looked like a scary monster to me which was why I took the photo.  However it may not look that way immediately to anyone else – they may wonder why I took a photo of a tree which a couple of strange holes and knots.  But calling the image “Tree monster” immediately tells the viewer that there is some connection between the image and the monster – they have an idea as to why I took it and what to look out for.  Another example is this image.  Again the title tells the viewer the theme of the image and prepares them what to look out for (along with some not so subtle image manipulation – darkening the “A” a bit just to really drive the point home. I don’t think I would do this nowadays though).  Alternatively to acting as a kind of clue, the name of an image can also confirm the point of the photo.  The second image a viewer might think “ooh – that looks a bit like an A”, see the title and think – “aah got it”.

But these examples are exceptions.  Typically I find it difficult to come up with a good title.  Examples here include a shot of a sculpture of a sycamore seed called imaginately “Sycamore” (from an earlier TAOP project), one of a swan called “Swan1” (there was once upon a time Swan2 – and no apologies for the over-saturated colours. I like blue), and one from today, a view over Claremont Landscape Garden called…. yup you guessed it –“View Over Claremont Landscape Garden”.

Titles aren’t necessary of course.  Most of the time it is good to challenge the viewer by leaving it up to them to explore the image, find its point themselves, have the satisfaction of understanding the image.  But nevertheless, in these days of Flickr photostreams, captioned images in the media, and so on, titles definitely have a role to play somewhere.  It is difficult though, and a quick glance through my Flickr page will find plenty of boring banners, painful puns, and dull descriptions (enough alliterative appellations for now I think)

I finish this post with one of the few instances where I am truly happy with a title.  It is for an image I took today.  In fact I am so happy with this one, if a pollster suddenly called and asked me what my greatest achievement was ever, I would (at the moment) give serious consideration to this title.  Don’t get me wrong – the image isn’t all that.  In fact it is average at best.  But the combination of image and title – now that is something to be truly proud of.  I’ll put a link up in a minute, but before you click on it I recommend you take a seat, and be prepared to have a cup of tea and a short lie down while you contemplate the title and all the angles it works from.  When you’re ready, click here….

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10 May 2009 - Posted by | General

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