She’s done it again! Our wonderful Columnist Janine Graf graces her wonderful iSights Column with this latest article. Expanding on the importance of image titles for photographs, a very hot topic right now and speaking of hot, I’d like to find out a little more from Janine regarding her last sentence – maybe all will be revealed in a future column article 😉 Over to you Janine… (foreword by Joanne Carter).
‘Hi everybody! For this month’s article I decided to expand upon the hot topic of the importance of image titles. If you had missed it, I recently wrote a Tip of the Day for The App Whisperer on the subject; I believe it was Tip #15 . . . maybe you should go read it before continuing on here (I’ll wait). So my tip was maybe more of a suggestion, but one I feel pretty passionate about. I had two readers disagree with me, so actually I’m not sure if that really qualifies as a “hot topic” . . . “lukewarm topic” perhaps? Hey, it was either write about this or share the story of my vitamin C overdose . . . oh Hell, I’ll do both.
So here’s my stance on the subject of image titles: in my humble opinion, I think artists should name their creations, whether it’s a photograph, a painting, a sculpture, or a song. I feel this way for two reasons; the first one being that, to me, a creation simply feels unfinished if it’s left unnamed. A thoughtful title can really up the “wow” factor of an image; helps tell the story. Sure, sure, a single picture should speak 1,000 words, be open to the viewer’s own interpretation, etc., but an image can do and be both of those things and still have a title. I’d be lying if I said that a title has never swayed my interpretation, but if anything it made me feel more passionate about the piece. Secondly, and possibly more importantly, if you don’t give a piece of art a title, a name, then how do you identify it later on down the road in your portfolio; how do you catalog it?
Let’s look at the notion of naming an image from a technical standpoint, let’s leave artistry out of it. In this electronic age, don’t you want your images to be easily discovered? It’s all about search engine optimization, or SEO for short. I’m a sucker for statistics so I’m all over this stuff; statistics are the reason why I’m bummed out over the probability that I will most likely die from a heart attack and not by being crushed by a falling piano. So, I did two searches in Google (for images only); the first one using the name of one of my photos I have uploaded to Flickr. It came up in the second row (not bad, not bad). I then did a search in Google just using the word “untitled” and what I saw was everything from messy, unidentifiable ink drawings to nude gender bending photographs to pictures of fruit. I motioned to my husband who was across the room and said, “Look at this total fuster cluck my search just produced.” He stood there, staring at me from across the room with the condemning eyes of someone who feared I was strung out on Visine, again. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I want my images to be easily found. I’ve had some really great opportunities come my way all because my work was discovered in a search. C’mon metadata don’t fail me now!
In conclusion, I’m not saying I don’t enjoy an image that has been left untitled. My eyes feast upon beautiful creations every day, some of which are without titles; it doesn’t leave me thinking the image is any less beautiful, it just feels unfinished to me . . . like a painting that’s missing its frame . . . or a cheeseburger that’s missing its cheese.
Now in regards to vitamin C, allow me to be your cautionary tale. I was 22 years old and working as a secretary in a real estate developer’s office (this was back before the word “secretary” fell into disrepute – we are talking typewriters, carbon paper and white-out). Everyone in my office was dropping like flies due to a nasty cold bug. I had the brilliant idea to run to the drug store on my break (which was after picking up my boss’s dry cleaning, but before I typed up his son’s book report) and buy a bottle of chewable vitamin C. Because I wanted to be proactive, and because I’m like a puppy with dog treats, and because I have that warped “if a little is good then a lot is better” mentality, I ate the entire bottle within several hours. By nightfall the whites of my eyes turned yellowish (and of course no amount of Visine got the yellow out . . . yep, fell head first off the Visine wagon). Then my joints swelled up and I broke out into hives. For an entire year, I couldn’t take a drink of orange juice or anything else containing any amount of vitamin C without breaking out into hives all over my joints. True story. I did not, however, catch the office cold so all-in-all I consider that a win.
So remember, it’s all about the metadata, “fuster cluck” was a happy accident not brought on by Visine abuse, and eating an entire bottle of chewable vitamin C in one sitting is really, really stupid. Speaking of stupid, maybe next time I’ll share the story of how I ate 24 Twix candy bars in one day and then threw up all night long while sharing a house with a bunch of really cute sailors. True story . . . ‘
‘The Nonconformist’ – © Janine Graf