What’s In A Name? Volume 1 curated by Todd Leban

Whether you are aiming to be creative, clever, humorous, emotional, or are simply identifying the elements of your shot, the title for your image is an important element that deserves some thought. In this first installment of an ongoing series, I have asked a handful of mobile photographers to select one of their photographs, and share their process of selecting its title. Please join me in discovering more about these artists and their images from around the globe.

My Reflection and a Piece of My Heart (1)

Chuck Rose

Title of Image: My Reflection and a Piece of My Heart.

This picture is of my only son. I was thinking about how he will reflect some of who I am – that how I treat him and others will be reflected in the way that he treats people, and what a huge responsibility that is, and what an invaluable gift he is. It also made me think of how I want to be a reflection of God, my heavenly Father.

My process for naming an image generally happens one of two ways. I either have a thought in my head that I want to share, and look for or create an image to accompany it, OR I look at or create an image, and a thought comes to mind. One of my primary goals on Instagram, and in life is to encourage others. As I am thinking about a caption, I try and ask myself if the caption will in one way or another encourage those who see it – either by making them laugh, or making them think, or by sharing a part of who I am.

I know that some artists prefer not to use a caption….to allow the viewer to take what they want from the image. Though that is sometimes true for me, more often than not I want the caption to provide the viewer a deeper glimpse into some thought I had when creating the image.

AMPt // Instagram // Flickr // Twitter

Louise Fryer - 'Don'tcha look back

Louise Fryer

Title of Image: Don’tcha Look Back

Naming an image is quite a new thing for me, until recently I believed that it was better to leave the perception of an image up to the viewer and not influence in any way. I am currently working on creative self portraits and especially for this genre, I find the images I create don’t seem finished until they have a title. Choosing a title is a very individual process and they can come from pretty much anywhere.

The images I’m concentrating on right now usually have some kind of emotional significance and sometimes I’ll find a title comes to me quite easily, music is a great inspiration to me, and this image is titled from the last lines of ‘Don’t Stop’ by Fleetwood Mac. As this image is quite personal to me in what it represents ‘Don’tcha Look Back’ is perfect being that it is about moving forward, looking to the future and not looking back.

Website // Twitter 

Processed with VSCOcam with t3 preset

Philip Parsons

Title of Image: A Window to the Ordinary.

I tend to keep my titles to one of three styles: simple and to the point, references to song lyrics and registration numbers.  I usually deliberate over a title for a while, because I feel that a title is a vital part of a piece, not just an add on.  Nevertheless, although I want the title to enhance the image, I still want the image itself to be the dominant method of communication.  I also find it hard to write short, pithy titles without them sounding glib, cheesy or just downright pointless.  I find that songwriters often express what I want to say far more eloquently than I ever could.

The title for the image I’ve chosen doesn’t fit into one of the three categories I usually pick.  This image is a comment on photographic composition as well as a reflection on the way I see many people viewing the world around them.  The focal point of the shot is clearly the window, but what is seen through the window is plain, ordinary and uninteresting.  The interest is in the frame.  The details that the viewer should be observing are peripheral.  Sometimes, individual circumstances can become so dominant that it is easy to miss the multiple elements that compose our existence.  I feel that I frequently need to take a step back and look at the wider perspective.

All links to my social networks can be found via my website.

Armineh - Two Faces for the price of one (2)

Armineh Hovanesian
Image title: Two faces for the price of one!
I decided to use this photo. A typical portrait shot however, when I looked at it and worked on the edit, I realized that I’m seeing two faces! Myself and my dad, whom I lost in 2011.
Generally, my photos are not planned in advance.  Sometimes, I do have an idea and at other times, I just shoot and deal with the results later. That said, the titles always come to me as I’m looking and editing the photos. Depending on what kind of a feeling they convey some titles are literal, others thoughts and feelings. I tend to speak and communicate with my photos.
Usually I like to participate in monthly challenges where each day is given its own name, mission if you will. This way, when shooting, I have an agenda.  As for the rest and most of the time, how a title enhances and supports an image that would entirely depend on my mood, state of mind and kind of day I have had.
Michelle Robinson - The Secret Story 8 (1)
Michelle Robinson

Image title: The Secret Story 8/23

This is an image from “The Secret Story”, a set of images that speaks of a life story, many loves ago. Whilst it is an image that is “in-your-face”, it is one that was created from a place of peace. For me, having found creativity and some kind of artistry after a “brain crash” (because a “nervous breakdown” is not close to describing what I went through), my early artwork was very raw as I channelled all the decades of repressed emotions. To be able to be removed enough to tell that part of my life is a huge personal achievement for me.

This year I decided to not give titles to my images, especially since I started my Creative 365 Project for 2014. I’ve used quotes to support many of the images and when I have needed to give a title to them, I have abstracted from the quotes. Part of the reason for doing this is due to laziness and also to lend credence to my own belief that I’d rather people see what they want to see, if they see anything at all.

If I could, I would name all of my images “untitled”. I think titles are important because it helps direct a viewer to a sentiment or state of mind. In many ways, the use of quotes is the same, I guess; except that I actually search for the quotes after I do the images. I’d like to think that my images can simply stand on their own untitled and to give freedom to interpretation. I am quite happy if people don’t ‘get it’, and often times, they take from it something that is wholly different from my original intention. To me, that is “art”. I spend a lot of time creating with heart and soul and from instinct and the sharing of images on a public platform is like releasing a balloon up into the air for the wind to take it to … wherever. Likewise, I share and expect nothing in return. There are people who view images quietly and follow my journey – if they take anything from it, it is already a gift in itself. I prefer not to dictate how people should interpret or feel about my images. I don’t seek for approval and neither should they if they interpret something right or wrong. The surprise is when someone sees something profound which I hadn’t in my creative process.


*If you are interested in being a part of future volumes, please send me an email. – Todd Leban


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Todd Leban