What’s in a (photo’s) name?

I uploaded a bunch of recent travel photos to Flickr yesterday, but didn’t have the time to type in titles. And until I do, the effect will remain horrible: “DSC_0528” adds nothing to what the photo is trying to convey.

Giving titles or captions to your photos allows you to add another layer of interpretation to your experience. You give the viewer another angle to consider, or context that isn’t apparent from the snapped moment. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Maybe this is just a personal aesthetic preference, but I don’t see the point of choosing a title that weakly replicates the visual image. Something like, “Sun setting behind three palm trees.”

I know there must be a thousand “How to write a killer title” posts/articles/chapters out there, and I’d think the same principles apply regardless of the artistic medium. Still, I’m going to point out a few ways to approach titling a photo:

What do you think? What makes a good photo title?

Posted by | Comments (4)  | August 18, 2010
Category: General, Images from the road

4 Responses to “What’s in a (photo’s) name?”

  1. Ted Beatie Says:

    Great post, Brett! I’m probably guilty of titling some of my photos too obviously, but I do try to at least attach more meaningful descriptions.

    Your mention of ‘Time’ reminds me of a series I put together for a show on Burning Man a few years ago, of the burning of a structure affectionately called ‘The Belgian Waffle’. It was about the size of a small football stadium, built entirely out of 2x4s. When it caught, it burned very quickly, and so I put a sequence of four photos together, and simply titled it ‘4 minutes‘.

  2. Roger Says:

    I wish more people would type something to indicate what the photo is about. Too many people don’t take the time to explain what it is they are posting. Especially on Facebook.

  3. Jim Munro Says:

    There are so many options on flickr to provide data for your photos, it’d be a shame to not take advantage of this.

    I would guess that you would already understand the benefit of properly naming and tagging photos & videos for optimizing for Google and the like. (Why not get the traffic, and potential readers, of people looking for travel to come to your blog when they are searching for photos of Italy?)

    Aside from those benefits for a blogger, it’s just nice to get the details. I agree that finding some great photos and seeing that there is no information and a useless auto-generated filename is frustrating.

    Titles are important for search engines, but I like to see comments on what/when/where as that really can connect me to the photo more than a title or tag can. Humans like stories. 🙂

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