How much can a title change the meaning of a photo?

vg 05 ccp 19 1999-2007no title

14 thoughts on “How much can a title change the meaning of a photo?

  1. I am not sure if “I am very interested to know what you think” refers to the photo or the title, so in this order:

    – The photo is a bit too abstract for me, so I can’t tell much about it as the context is missing
    – Regarding the title, I think it depends on how people approach it. If the viewers are visual and look at the thumbnail (or feature) in the reader, probably the title has little effect; if they are instead searching by keywords, topics, categories, etc, then the title will have a greater effect on their interest.

    I hope I haven’t made too much confusion.

    • No, no. It is really interesting to see how people react on both photos, titles and the combination of the two. At the “physical” exhibitions I have never titled my photos. I find it rather peculiar. But the blog thing is a bit different and I felt that I have to put a title for many reasons:
      1.Easier to attract attention with a catchy one
      2.Help (lead) people get into the meaning of the photo
      3.Easier to remember a title and look up for the photo, later
      4.Add some weight/strength with a clever title

      and many more.

      So thank you for your comment! Much appreciated.

  2. is this you, vassilis?

    i think the title of a photo / piece of art is crucial if you want to make a point or ‘feed a message’ to the viewer. for example if the portrait above was titled “ascension sunday”, it wld immediately take on an overt, serious, religious connotation.. on the other hand if it was titled “reality tv makes me feel like this”, the meaning is changed completely to something semi-comic / cultural

    anyways! nice shot x

    • No, not me. My eternal model.

      Thank you!

      Yes, your point is good. I have thought of it and always wondered about influencing/leading the imagination of the viewer to a certain direction. It is like photojournalism that a caption can change the meaning of the photograph. But what happens with photos like this? Should we title them or not? And is the question a title and as such make the viewer think harder behind appearances? Do we have to weave a mystery to support the photo? Is this a true visual experience or a second hand one? And last but not least is the photo strong enough to stand the weight of the question in the first place?
      😉

  3. A title can lead someones’ mind onto a different path and make them think of the photo in a different way they may have been going to otherwise. Looking at the photo from two different angles, if you want to make sure the viewer choses what you intended, a title may be best.

    • Thank you David! I would consider doing this if there was a certain angle I wished to point to, or if I thought the photo is too confusing. But I much prefer to let the viewer’s imagination do the work!

  4. i love the meaning titles can add to a photo…if the artist really has a concept to express through the title itself as a medium… (as your title did, see what a discussion it created!)

  5. If you want to influence the viewer you can make a suggestive title like “I’m waiting your soul”, by example, or instead choose the title that is equal to “no title”, like “girl watching through the fire”. I love this second type of title that remember the classical painters. And very good portrait !!

    • I’m waiting for your soul! That made me laugh! I don’t like to use descriptive titles, because they state the obvious, but since they are harmless and do not add extra meanings or lead the viewer I prefer them over the suggestive ones, that sometimes over-suggest and describe things that actually are not present and demand the collective imagining strength of the world population to see. Thank you!

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