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To Title Or Not To Title (that is the title)

Today I received a comment on a photo that I posted to a Facebook group and it got me thinking about photo titles.

Another car salesman selling the proverbial polished turd

The subject came up because someone felt that my image was mistakenly titled or maybe more accurately, unintentionally titled poorly. This same issue or a very similar variant pertaining to how the title is disrespectful has come up in several places the image has been posted before. In fact this image’s title was the basis for a lengthy discussion on the BorrowLens FB group awhile back.

I’ve stayed pretty silent about this entire topic for awhile now, but today it got me thinking more about it and so here I am gently depressing away on the keys of my keyboard.

A photo title can do wonders

I’ll begin by saying that to me, the titling of my images is very important. It is a “non-crucial”, but effective tool that the photographer has to imprint something extra onto their work. Something that can have dramatic effect (both good and bad) to how an audience views the subject.

For me, I like to say that titles choose the image rather than the other way around. The title of an image allows me to set a mood, help put the viewer into a scene, build a story, create drama, etc… It allows me to sneak a bit of my personality and soul into my work.

Of course this is ideally done through the photo itself, and I do NOT argue in any way, that this should be a substitute for creating a compelling image. As I mentioned earlier, it is a “NON-CRITICAL” tool that the photographer has. Remember, just because you title something “Awesome”, doesn’t make it so.

I say this, because the presence of a photo title always helps start the story of a photo. However, the same absence of a photo title has just as powerful of an effect in allowing the viewer to fill in their own details of the story.

Just because you title something “Awesome” doesn’t make it so

That power of whether or not to title a photo is up to the photographer. However, to many a photo title is more than a description of a photograph. It is more than just meta information or visual noise.

Believe it or not, I take very few photos, so when I title them they always mean something to me. Sometimes the title is rather straight forward but sometimes, it’s something about the mood I was in when I took the shot or more importantly, what I want the viewer to feel when they view the photo. It allows the viewer to actually feel a bit more of what I intended and connect with me as a photographer and more importantly as an artist.

I know some will argue that this is cheating, from a purist standpoint. Again, I won’t try to make an argument against that, as it is indeed a form of cheating, or should I say: “influencing the viewer through means other than the original medium itself”. Just another way of describing a car salesman selling the proverbial, polished turd. I get it, I do.

Nobody is forcing anyone to title an image, that’s the beauty of it all.

All of this said, I did not and will not be changing the title of my image in question of all of this. The title I chose was for a reason, that is a reason unique to me and to what I want the image to portray. Just as the title of a book is there for you to enjoy or be repulsed by, it is there to connect emotion from sight.

So, that is my belief on this subject matter. What about you? Do you or don’t you title your images? Is dscxxx321.jpg perfectly suitable?

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— Todd Lambert
Follow Me Into The Night | Explore America By Twilight
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