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View Full Version : Possibly a silly question about titles...



photosbybobby
01-27-2011, 10:37 PM
I've never entered any images in competition, but I hear a lot of people on the forums mention how a good title can really help. My question is, why is the title so important in competition? If I entered a technically perfect image (for example) without a title (or with a poor one), would it lessen my chances of winning?

Keith_A_Howe
01-27-2011, 10:59 PM
A good title can help explain what otherwise may be confusing about an image. A good title can create a story ( emotion which equals impact) in the minds of the judges. For example we have a friend who is entering a nice but basic portrait of a dad with his toddler daughter. Holly suggested titling it "Single Dad". All of a sudden the judges see an extra story in the image, the father's struggle to raise a child on his own, how he misses his wife , how the little girl will never know her mom etc. That story helps add impact. A bad title can hurt an image if the meaning is so obscure the panel is confused. Judges will try to not let a poor title hurt the score but if for even a monment the judge is distratced trying to figure out what the heck the title means, then you lose that moment of initial impact. For example a foreign word. Unless you know for a fact that all the judges speak that language, you may do more to hurt the image then help it. An awesome image does not need a title to make it fly, but a title is one more tool in your tool box. Why not use every little edge you can. Presentation is one of the 12 elements. The title is part of the presentation. That all being said, if you were at IUSA you probably saw some of the foreign entries. When they title their prints, the translations are not always fluid or appropiate. We as judges understand that and usually just disregard their titles when that happens. It does not hurt their images.

Keith

Carl_Bromberg
01-27-2011, 11:03 PM
Bobby,

The reason the title is so important is the way the images are judged.

The title is announced THEN the image is revealed to the judges. So the title kind of sets a tone as to what they are about to see.

I'm not a judge but I've sat in on several print judgings at our PPI state convention. Which if you ever get a chance is a GREAT learning experience. I've learned more watching these then I have in many of the programs I've attended.

Joe_Galioto
01-27-2011, 11:12 PM
bobby
it's not a silly question
i've heard others through the years pose that same question
artist seem to want to call everything "untitled #0"

Michael
01-27-2011, 11:47 PM
Keith's answer was very good. All I would add is to think of the title as the "icing on the cake", sometimes the icing can make up for a dry cake. :D

Joe_Galioto
01-28-2011, 12:21 AM
michael
not sure what your really saying
a great title don't compensate for a poor image

Keith_A_Howe
01-28-2011, 04:09 AM
sometimes the icing can make up for a dry cake. :D


michael
a great title don't compensate for a poor image

Dry cake is still cake - it's still good. I think what Michael was trying to convey was the idea that a title can make you think deeper about a print and not miss what might be really good about the image - or the cake for that matter.

Keith

Keith_A_Howe
01-28-2011, 04:18 AM
One more thing about titles, they can set an expectation and create anticipation. Imagine you friend wants to set you up on a blind date. He tells you the girls name is Bertha or Mildred. That's going to set a different expectation in your mind then if he tells you her name is Heather or Jennifer. How much would you look forward to meeting Bertha compared to Jennifer?

Keith

D._Craig_Flory
01-28-2011, 11:27 AM
The title is part of the Creativity. As was said, before, the panel 1st hears the title & then then views the image. Hopefully they are not disappointed. A good title can help convey what you were trying to say with the image. It should make them excited to see the image and thrilled once they actually do. After viewing hundreds of images a good title can help one image stand out from others.

suebird
01-28-2011, 01:26 PM
Sorry, I have to be devils advocate here, just trying to learn the reasoning further.

should a photo not speak for itself? and Merit on impact without words?

if you need translation in a title to add impact, has the photo not accomplished what it should as an image on it's own.

I am actually surprised to find out they read the title first? kind of defeats it being a "Photo" competition when the first thing the judges use to judge the photo ...is words?
Should it not be initial impact of the image? How it moves you as a viewer or does not move you.

I'll accept lashings on this :), just think it is good to figure this all out before i try to enter for the first time.... ;)

Missy50
01-28-2011, 01:41 PM
I am with you on this Suzanne.

Tss1203
01-28-2011, 02:00 PM
I disagree. We use titles in every day life. As Keith said, think about the impact your name has. Or the title to a song, or a book. It all helps tell the story.

photosbybobby
01-28-2011, 02:41 PM
should a photo not speak for itself? and Merit on impact without words?

This was my thought when I posed (pun intended) the question. But everyone's explanation makes sense, although I've never had the chance to go out with anyone named Bertha :)

Keith_A_Howe
01-28-2011, 02:57 PM
It's pretty simple really. If you don't feel a print should need a title then don't title your prints. Name your entries the simplest most generic thing you can think of like A print, B print, etc. Let your work speak for itself and only title it the minimum you can to fulfill that requirement. But once again I have to ask, if you are given the option of a title why not use everything you can to your advantage.

By the way I am going to the movies tonight, it doesn't have a title but I am sure once I see it, it will speak for itself. I bought a book yesterday. The front cover is blank but I am sure the writing will make an impact. I bought some canned goods in the store, don't know what they are because it doesn't say on the label but I am sure they will be delicious.

Another thing I want to point out. Titles give each print an identity. It's much easier to remember Rick Massarini's print "Bed & Breakfast" then it is to talk about print # 345-B or to say remember that print Rick did of the homeless guy with the empty beer bottle asleep in a doorway? A title makes it easier when working with hundreds or thousands of prints for both the crew, the judges and the people viewing the exhibition. It makes it easier down the road for everyone to know exactly what print we are talking about. Do we want to discuss the Mona Lisa? Or are we going to talk about that painting Leo did that one time of the girl sorta smiling.

Keith

Missy50
01-28-2011, 03:01 PM
I have 2 or 3 something just pops in my head right away. But when I was at imaging 2010, looking at all the entries, I rarely recall looking at or for the titles. Just studying the images.

But I do see the importance.

Joe_Galioto
01-28-2011, 04:09 PM
at the very least you could just use the subjects name(s)
like image of girl "sarah"
sometimes i've changed the name, good example would be bertha
you could call a family portrait "the johnson family"
not that creative, but will do in a pinch

photosbybobby
01-28-2011, 04:11 PM
Coming up with a good title always been a weakness for me. I use to try to title a lot of my non-portrait work and most of it ends up with "Untitled" below it. These were just shots I did for myself more than anything else, so I never really put much effort into the title unless something jumped immediately to mind.

moehler
01-28-2011, 05:18 PM
This is really a great thread. I am putting final touches on my competition prints and I've come to titles. I've pick out what I am going to title them, but I came up with the idea of doing a slide show that shows the title for a few seconds and then will rotate the image in for 20 second before going to the next pair. I want to see if the titles will have impact. I may do voice overs instead to see if that leads me somewhere else, too. But it may end up being stupid, too. :-)

Joe_Galioto
01-28-2011, 05:34 PM
when in a pinch for a good title try Google - search for poems music, stuff like that
remember you don't have to be truthful with titles
i entered a print once titled "villa capri" it was taken near mexico city.
another one from mexico i used "central park west"
my wife entered one taken in middle america somewhere title used was "irish countryside"
your just trying to enhance the story

GregYager
01-28-2011, 05:50 PM
I'm firmly in the camp that feels art doesn't need a title to be judged. Most of the famous art you see was created sans title. The titles were added after the fact in order to market the art and give it a means to be sold and cataloged. The movie Keith mentioned did not need a great title to be a great movie. It needed a great title to help convince him to see it. That's the marketing aspect of it.

Our series of photographic competitions are amongst the very few that allow the title to be known when it's being judged. Most art is judged without the title being allowed to influence the outcome. When you apply too many standards to what should be in an art piece it becomes an incestuous work that lacks the ability to be fully expressive and creative. Titles is an example of this effect. When 99% of the people apply titles and are judged as having a great title then the 1% that tries to let the art speak for itself is destined to score lower therefore the 1% is forced to let a title help the image along if they wish to score accordingly. Art is supposed to have the ability to say many things to different people which is why interpretation of art is such a large part of it's enjoyment.

I would look at this differently if the images were being judged as advertising pieces. Then we would need to know if the image is conveying the message intended by the creator. Art however speaks many languages and has many meanings depending on the viewer.

With that being said keep in mind that I may be opinionated but I'm not crazy. My entries will have titles and they will be creative as possible. My goal is to create merit prints that have a chance at going Loan. This won't happen by me bucking the system. If conforming benefits me in the end I'll be the first to admit that I will conform. I just gripe about it along the way.:)

Carl_Bromberg
01-28-2011, 06:07 PM
Sorry, I have to be devils advocate here, just trying to learn the reasoning further.

should a photo not speak for itself? and Merit on impact without words?

if you need translation in a title to add impact, has the photo not accomplished what it should as an image on it's own.

I am actually surprised to find out they read the title first? kind of defeats it being a "Photo" competition when the first thing the judges use to judge the photo ...is words?
Should it not be initial impact of the image? How it moves you as a viewer or does not move you.

I'll accept lashings on this :), just think it is good to figure this all out before i try to enter for the first time.... ;)

First I'm no expert, have had a couple images merit at state level, but nothing at national level.

But I have sat in on judging a few times at state level and highly recommend doing so for anyone. I've learned more about composition and lighting etc, by sitting in on these then a lot of programs I've attended. It will also give you a lot of insight on the importance of the title.

(BTW, If you ever get the chance to attend a Don Chick program on lighting, I highly recommend that also)

But back to the point, while I agree an image should be able to stand on it's own, the title as Craig and Keith pointed out, just kind of sets an expectation of what the judges are about to see and is just considered as part of the presentation as has been said. Back to attending a judging, once you do the whole process becomes a lot more clear! :)

KirkDarling
01-28-2011, 06:12 PM
I like the titles, mostly because of my own concept of what art (any art, not just visual art) is: Communication of emotion (rather than merely information) through a sensory medium. The title gives me a hint of what the photographer intended to communicate, like Minnesota Fats calling his shots, Babe Ruth pointing out the direction he'd hit his next home run, or Muhammad Ali naming the round he'd knock out his opponent.

If the title scores a hit with what the image says to me, it's just that extra bit of thrill for me that the artist successfully communicated what he thought he was communicating. Just my opinion.

suebird
01-28-2011, 10:17 PM
I agree titles play an important role in everyday life, products and events, however I am a little surprised to learn in this thread, that the first thing a photo judge would hear in a photo competition is the title. I am a strong proponent of images having impact on their merit as a stand alone image. If a title is needed with an image, then I don;t think it has done it's job in creating impact and lasting impression.

photosbybobby
01-28-2011, 10:20 PM
I don't know how many judges there are at competition, but it would seem like a title would almost make it easier to judge. Without a title, and with 5 different judges (for example), you could end up with 5 different interpretations of the image. With a title, it seems like it would help them all focus (again, pun intended) on a single meaning.

suebird
01-28-2011, 10:48 PM
Just judged a competition for a local camera club and none of the titles on the lower scoring images would of changed the success or non success of the image. It was either a successful photo or it was not.

I think as a secondary or third level in competition it could be relevant, but I am not sure I would be able to agree that a title or words should be the primary first impression for the judges in a photo competition.

Joe_Galioto
01-29-2011, 01:30 AM
there seems to be an opinion here that artist usually don't title their work
that's not necessarily true
i have 4 oil paintings in an exhibit at the moment it a well respected visual arts center which teach & exhibit all types on mediums, including photography
i filled out a submission form prior to opening, aside from the usual stuff like medium, size, support (support would be like canvas on stretcher) they also asked for a title & selling price.
some of the painters just put untitled, me i was so ready from being used to print comp that the titles rolled off my tongue.
point is: we aren't the only group requiring titles

GregYager
01-29-2011, 01:45 AM
they also asked for a title & selling price.
some of the painters just put untitled, me i was so ready from being used to print comp that the titles rolled off my tongue.
point is: we aren't the only group requiring titles

Like you said, some put untitled. The title was obviously optional but was needed along with price for marketing and cataloging purposes, not for competition.

Joe_Galioto
01-29-2011, 02:00 AM
untitled might = lazy

GregYager
01-29-2011, 02:11 AM
untitled might = lazy

You crack me up Joe. It very well could mean lazy. It could also equal confident as well. I'm obviously gonna title mine and put some thought into those titles but only because that's part of what helps the darn thing make it over 80.

Joe_Galioto
01-29-2011, 02:16 AM
greg
if it was easy, then anybody could do it
you wouldn't want that?............................or would you?

GregYager
01-29-2011, 03:39 AM
Easy would be very boring. I do love a challenge and sometimes the challenge isn't so much a technical task as it is just fitting in.

It's actually funny how much debate goes on about what we do. The debates are inevitable because we are artists and not scientists. Science is packed full of certainties whereas art is comprised almost entirely of variables. It's what keeps art interesting.

Carl_Bromberg
01-29-2011, 04:24 AM
Science is packed full of certainties whereas art is comprised almost entirely of variables. It's what keeps art interesting.

Amen to that!

KirkDarling
01-29-2011, 03:43 PM
Easy would be very boring. I do love a challenge and sometimes the challenge isn't so much a technical task as it is just fitting in.

It's actually funny how much debate goes on about what we do. The debates are inevitable because we are artists and not scientists. Science is packed full of certainties whereas art is comprised almost entirely of variables. It's what keeps art interesting.

You must never have seen scientists get into a fist fight.

Well, actually they just slap and pull hair, but they get pretty ferocious about it.

GregYager
01-29-2011, 08:20 PM
You must never have seen scientists get into a fist fight.

Well, actually they just slap and pull hair, but they get pretty ferocious about it.

O know LOL is common to hear but doggonit Kirk I actually laughed out loud on that one. I think I have part of my sandwich still stuck to the monitor.:D

Jeff_Dachowski
01-29-2011, 08:29 PM
should a photo not speak for itself? and Merit on impact without words?

)

Who is to say that an image might not merit called untitled?
Jeff

Jeff_Dachowski
01-29-2011, 08:32 PM
none of the titles on the lower scoring images would of changed the success or non success of the image. It was either a successful photo or it was not.



Bingo! As a PPA approved International Juror, we are charged to judge the image in front of us. If the title does not make sense, then we may disregard it.
Jeff

Mark_Levesque
01-29-2011, 08:44 PM
Sometimes a title can provoke additional attention from the judges. This is especially true when the images are subtle or include somewhat obscured elements. There are many times when the subject of an image is obvious, and can be readily understood and appreciated. But sometimes there are images that are created that contain somewhat hidden elements, like a man's face in the side of a rock formation. Absent the title, the judges may overlook such an image.

Keith_A_Howe
01-29-2011, 08:53 PM
Well, actually they just slap and pull hair, but they get pretty ferocious about it.

Pocket protectors at 10 paces?