I'm spending time tonight trying to think how to name a photograph. Specifically, the one on this post. I know some women who name their shoes, so why can't I think of a title for a photo?
What's In a Name?
The idea of giving a name to art has been on my mind lately, but for a rather pedestrian reason. I'm helping my cousin's wife by building a web site for her art. She's a painter who creates images of angels and she wants a nice web site to show her work online. Seems reasonable.
She sent me photos of her work and I started thinking about how to share them, which theme to choose, stuff like that. That's when I noticed that none of these photos had titles. All of the image names were just straight out of the camera.
When I asked her, she seemed confused as to why a painting needs a name. From her perspective, the image speaks for itself. I kind of like that on some level. Being a web developer isn't one of those levels, though.
Here's a pertinent example. She wants to sell her work online. How do you order something that you can't identify? She's used to selling her art in a gallery, so a customer can walk in and point to a work they want to purchase, and that's it. It's a bit more complicated online. You have to identify the work for an online order.
I hate to call them Angel #1, Angel #2, etc. It would work, but it's not exactly artsy.
Now let's translate that so I can figure out how to name a photograph. Sometimes the direct approach works best. Call it what it is so people understand. If I have a photo of the Bellagio Fountains, I could just name it “Bellagio Fountains” and people know what they're getting. Even better, it's a good idea to use clear descriptions for search engine optimization. If you search online for a photography of the Bellagio Fountains, you're being pretty clear about what you want.
However, some photographers like to use artsy names. Names that have no description of the subject at all. I've done it. One of my photos of the Bellagio Fountains is Serene. Trust me, nobody looks at this photo. They aren't going to scroll back to see what I've done and it isn't something that someone will find on a web search.
If you want to see some wacky photo names, head over to Flickr. I don't know what some of those people are drinking, but they have an endless array of photos with names that seem completely unrelated to the subject – “She Said She Would Call Me Later” as a title for a mundane photo of some downtown buildings.
Would you ever expect to find this photo on a search? How would you promote it for sale? I'm beginning to think some photographers name their images with random word generators.
I think I like names like “The Starry Night.” It was good enough for Van Gogh, so I'm probably going to spend more brain cells with descriptive, if mundane, titles.
How To Name A Photograph
Another view on top of Jade Mountain. OK, that's not going to be the name. It's just where I was standing when I took this shot.