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Photography DiscussionTo Title, Or Not To Tile? That Is The Question.

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St3v3M
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To Title, Or Not To Tile? That Is The Question.

Post by St3v3M » Sat Oct 14, 2017 7:44 pm

Prompted by a question from one of our members I thought we could talk about the 'need' to add a title to a work of art.

As I understand it there are two camps in this lengthy war, the first claims a work of art should be able to stand on its own, without title, backstory, or any word whatsoever from the artist, while the second says a title is necessary to claim a sense of identity for the work and to help define the story for the viewer. The specifics may be a little off as I'm making this up as I go, but the general principle is Title or No Title, and the question then is which do you believe and why?

Let the discussion begin! S-
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Post by LindaShorey » Sat Oct 14, 2017 8:56 pm

I agree with both camps :) For me it's one of those conversations that fall under "it depends."

One reason I might create a neutral (untitled) title is to receive an uninfluenced opinion/emotional response. A situation where I'm curious about what an image says to someone else rather than what I want (and hope) they will feel.

On a large, busy forum I would often attempt to give a title that was both informative to subject matter, while being (hopefully) eye-catching and interesting. Examples:

"Barn swallow - who's a pretty boy?" (I used similar for a llama portrait)
"How a water strider attracts the ladies"
"The Irrigation Beast"
"Clearing storm in the canyon - a fanciful version"

Here's what I wrote in Matt's topic a few days ago. The second paragraph consists of thoughts on the subject from several sources, not my own brain:

Regarding titles for photos, here's an interesting article (I think Minnie first provided it in another forum):
https://guytal.com/wordpress/2013/07/18 ... conundrum/

Other people have shared their thoughts and questions:
Is the image worthy of standing on its own? Can a title enhance a viewer's experience? Titles can prepare a viewer for what to expect. Some people choose fanciful or descriptive or none, based on the image - each case being different. Some prefer to use no title, ever, so as not to bias the viewer whereas other folks want to give the viewer an insight into the making. I guess I would extend the "It's your image, do what you like to it" pov to titles as well, with the footnote that a viewer may still not "get" the mood or feeling, even with a bit of nudge.
"What's important in a photograph and what isn't." http://photographylife.com/whats-import ... -what-isnt

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Post by Graham Smith » Sat Oct 14, 2017 9:00 pm

I have just posted a picture in Members Showcase > Street and Photojournalism. The topic name I used gives no real indication of the contents. I have given it no title but as I see it as photojournalism it has to have some editorial for the viewer to understand the message of the image. viewtopic.php?f=39&t=2999
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Post by St3v3M » Sat Oct 14, 2017 9:22 pm

LindaShorey wrote:I agree with both camps :) For me it's one of those conversations that fall under "it depends."
...

I am your prototypical Libra in that I tend to look at both sides of the argument before making a decision so I love the It Depends answer as it says so much!
- I too like the idea of submitting an image without a title if it helps generate an unbiased opinion of the image, but playing devil's advocate I wonder how you keep them organized if you printed them for a showing. Would you call them Untilted #2 thereby giving it a title? That only matters if you're showing them of course.
- Of course, I like giving them titles too, mostly whimsical while trying to find something that captures the spirit of the image itself, but like my latest posting, the title I chose may not have been the best, so there's that too.

Maybe we should add a new Section called Untitled with the purpose of letting other people decide what it should be! And love the link! S-
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Post by Duck » Sat Oct 14, 2017 9:30 pm

Ooh, another interesting topic of conversation. :clap:

On an academic level, a title works to track and catalog an artist's work. It's not an old practice, but one that has become so routine it's almost second nature.

Titles fall along several types, depending on the artist and what they want to convey and may often be influenced by the category they place their image under. For example; a photographer working in still life may title a piece very generically as in "Still Life I" and "Still Life II", and so on in series. They could also name it according to the subject matter, as in "Still Life with an Apple". These types of titles don't really influence the viewer as the title is self descriptive. However, if the artist decided to be philosophical in the naming and called it, "Reflection on the History of Knowledge", then that piece takes on a whole new level of contemplation since the title now influences how the viewer is expected to study the piece. However, the artist may need to title the work in order to catalog and coordinate the work for a gallery showing or to track sales. In this case, many people will be referring to the named piece.

In photojournalism, titles and descriptives need to be truthful and reflect the action under which the image was made. For example; a photo of a burned out neighborhood titled, "California fires cause millions in damage" truthfully tells the story of the image, gives a general sense of place and explains the vastness of the damage. Depending on the usage, this same image can carry the title, "California real estate prices plummet" and still be truthful but influence how you see that same image. Yet if the title was, "Hawaii volcano explodes, leaving a path of destruction in its wake" suddenly that image has no credibility.

Titles are needed in order for us to maintain some form of order and for the sake of clarity in conversation. When I do events and post the hundreds of images on my website they all have a title. Not a fancy one and not one that is individualized to each image, but a title nonetheless. It's usually some variation of my name (or business name) along with the file number issued by the camera. When a customer makes an order and I get the notification I know exactly which one sold because of the title issued to the image. In this case the title is purely utilitarian and used for accounting. Should the buyer then give it a title of their own choosing is entirely on them.

Then there are images posted to this forum. Many may not warrant or call for a title and often we, as the creator, may not want to give it a title. Because we have to enter some form of title to the post we create in order to convey the content to other members, we end up giving the image a title by default. This, too, influences the viewer as they open up the post with an ever so broad expectation of the content, based on the title give. It was the title that gave curiosity to open the post to begin with and that, in itself, is influential.
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Post by St3v3M » Sat Oct 14, 2017 9:39 pm

Graham Smith wrote:... I have given it no title but as I see it as photojournalism it has to have some editorial for the viewer to understand the message of the image.

Photojournalism needs a title. What are your thoughts then on other types of images? S-
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Post by St3v3M » Sat Oct 14, 2017 9:56 pm

Duck wrote:Ooh, another interesting topic of conversation. :clap:

On an academic level, a title works to track and catalog an artist's work. It's not an old practice, but one that has become so routine it's almost second nature.
...

As always, your explanations are informative and logical, giving an opinion but also letting the reader decide. Thank you for that!

I was struck by two thoughts as I read this, the first relating to the quoted lines above where I wonder if the idea that it's routine is why I am almost against Untitled. Is it because it's expected and isn't that I miss it, or is there something more, the title to the story of the image perhaps. More to think on.

The second is a way to title the image without tilting it by adding the title the camera gives it, IMG_2945 as an example. Add your initial and you have an 'Untitled' image, but one that can still be tracked and cataloged. It doesn't do anything for my apparently need for a 'real' title but I can get therapy for that!

I like your take on this and appreciate the option! S-
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Post by St3v3M » Sat Oct 14, 2017 9:58 pm

To be fair, I'm adding the original Reply I wrote in the post that started this conversation. S-

"If you know me you know I'm curious by nature and love to see through another's eyes so I'm always disappointed when I visit a museum and the art is Untitled. Sometimes I feel like the artist, an artistic person who can make something beautiful was just lazy and didn't want to take the time to name something, but then at other times I think the artist wanted you to imagine a title all on your own. I'm never sure which, but for me at least, that little insight of those few words brings some comfort that the artist thought enough of their work to give you a brief insight to what they were thinking and what they want you to see."
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Post by Duck » Sat Oct 14, 2017 10:07 pm

St3v3M wrote:[...] It doesn't do anything for my apparently need for a 'real' title but I can get therapy for that!

I think we are all in that boat, for one reason or another. 8~
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Post by St3v3M » Sat Oct 14, 2017 10:15 pm

Duck wrote:
St3v3M wrote:[...] It doesn't do anything for my apparently need for a 'real' title but I can get therapy for that!

I think we are all in that boat, for one reason or another. 8~

LAF
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