A question that came up at a recent lecture I was giving to a camera club was: How important is the title of an image?
Now this made me stop and think for a minute (so a good question). I know that when I am creating images I don’t have a title in my mind, it is all about focusing on creating that image. I suggest that the titling process begins when I add images into my library. They have a ‘working title’ which is normally a generic shoot title in combination with a file number. I don’t rely on just numbers and dates alone therefore all the images from that shoot get that generic title.
It is only when I have selected an image and start to process that image that a possible title might appear. It may also come from my thinking while processing the images.
You could say it all depends on what you are going to do with the images. If it is only for your personal portfolio then does a title matter?
My personal opinion is yes, image titles are important.
Images that are going out to be viewed either on my website or on an image posting website should have a title.
Creating a title for your image is all part of the creative process. I know from personal experience that sometimes it is easy to come up with a good title and some times it is very difficult to come up with a good meaningful title.
However this question was in the context of using images in exhibitions/ competitions.
So how important is a title?
My thoughts and experience of entering images into exhibitions is that for most International exhibitions the title makes very little difference.
The reason of this is the volume of images that have been entered makes the judging process a rapid affair. Some times the titles are read out other they appear as texted with the image. It is all about the image making an impact in the short viewing window that the judges have.
It is only in the medal selection process that the judges will most likely see the titles of the selected images.
There are exceptions to this – for example, the London Salon and possibly the Edinburgh International. (Both print salons) where the judging process is very different. The title of the image is very important for the judging here. Especially in the London salon where it is all about the images being selected that show distinct evidence of artistic feeling and execution, So the title is a very important part of that.
But I suspect that for the majority of the digital salons the title is not seen until the end of the selection process. Certainly looking in salon catalogues you will see that certain authors don’t bother with strong title so you might see Mountain view III , or Window light 4.
At club level
However in club photography circles the title is very important and is usually read out prior to the image being presented for viewing/ judging.
So getting a good title for the image is essential. As in this area the title provides a useful handle for critiquing, reviewing and discussing the work.
Alternate titles may be suggested as this review is undertaken, which may or may not help the author.
To me the role of the image title is and will always be an important factor of image making.
It is perhaps the final part of the artistic creation process. The title once chosen, normally stays with that image or any form of art (whatever it is) for it life.
To choose a strong title should be part of the challenge for any artist no matter what type of art is being produced.
So my answer was that a good strong title is important.
Get the title right and it will be part of the emotional response of the viewer’s experience when they view the image.
These are my views so it would be interesting to read others views.
Below are a selection of images and with my chosen title that have done well at all levels with their titles: