Do photos need titles?

June 10, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

It might just be the weird way my mind wanders from time to time, but I wonder about this every time I post a photo on to my Flickr photostream.  Personally, I always give a title.  Why?  

Photography is an art.  Many other art forms have titles, so why not photos?

Imagine if the Mona Lisa didn't have that title.  We'd know it as 'that nice picture of the lady who looks like she's done something naughty'.  Would it have the same effect? 

Or the statue of David, would it be the same if we knew it as 'that statue of the bloke who's trying to think where he left his pants'?

Without getting too deep and profound about what the purpose of art may be, if indeed it actually needs a purpose outside of itself, many would say it is to communicate ideas, feelings or emotions.  Giving a title must help achieve that purpose, yes?  Though I often see many great images on Flickr and other platforms with titles like:  P00010659.jpg  Do they need a clever title?  No, they're still great images.

Look at the image below, gloriously entitled: 1805_9599.jpg 

I don't claim this is a great image, but would a title help?  Or would a title prevent the viewer from finding their own idea or emotion in the image.

Do viewers need hand-holding to find the feeling I want them to, or should we let them find it themselves?

(f/6.3, 1/160, 105mm, ISO200)

So, to put across the feelings, ideas, emotions that we want.  We could title this image: Daisies. Does it work?  Well, probably not, though descriptive titles are useful when the subject isn't clear...'daisies' certainly doesn't convey the feeling or ideas I had at the time of capture, or post-processing.

Then, how about:  Our brief moments in the sun

A bit melancholic maybe, and sadly I must admit that it wasn't the feeling I was going for when I took the picture.  I am not artistically clever enough to plan like that and take an image that represents some elegant metaphor in an arty way.

I did as I always do.  The 'that might look nice' approach.  I saw the chink of light moving across the daisies and thought it would make a nice photo.  I wish I could claim that I was going for an image to represent the brevity and frailty of human existence, alas, no.  It was only when processing in Lightroom did the title dawn on me...and it seems to fit.

So...compare:

1805_9599.jpg vs Our brief moments in the sun

Does the title help or hinder?  

Do you title your photographs, or do you go with the sequential filename?  Do your take notice of the titles that others give to their images? 

Please share your thoughts in a comment or two.  I'll be sure to reply!

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog

 

 

 

 


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