A few words

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by allen herbert, Sep 22, 2011.


  1. A few words or perhaps more than a few words..do they detract from a photograph or add a deeper understanding?
    It is a question which I personally have always struggled with.Interested in your thoughts.
     
  2. self-lost in presentation
     
  3. Do you mean words within the photo itself, or a descriptive caption/blurb under the photo?
     
  4. Either,or,James. I'm fishing.

    "self-lost in presentation"

    Hey, please explain or l'll send you to the Philosophy of Photography forum.
     
  5. Unless you're telling a story with a number of photos making up the story, like in a phot-journalistic article, a caption on a single photo should be non-descript, used for identification only. As soon as you add descriptive terms and long explanations, you're trying to influence your audience so they see your shot they way you want them to see it. A good picture should stand on it's own. The viewer should be able to see the point, if there is a point, without verbal embellishment. This requires trust on the photographer's side that their photo tells the story.
    I'm not always that secure.
     
  6. I'm with Alan when I title or caption a shot it's so I can locate it easier.
     
  7. There is a tradition of words and pictures. In one of my photo classes we actually had projects involving using words and photos. In documentary photography photographers like Eugene Smith foraged whole projects utilizing photos and words. This isn't meant as any definitive answer but I guess if my photographs were going to depend on words, I would want to maybe think of them as elements of the piece or project. Just one approach.
     
  8. For me, a good example that springs to mind is Clive F.'s recent project about Japan. The photos were good, but explanation for each pic was required to make it work as a documentary. For street photography, I think the less said, the better.
     
  9. I think that if your work is intended to enable viewers to have a personal experience of interaction and interpretation then having no captions is fine.
    However if the scene is telling a story that relies on an element of 'truth' or is in some way open to misinterpretation which would perhaps (for example) denigrate the subjects, then a few words are vital.
    Sometimes it can take a series of images to 'tell' the story which one single image with a brief caption can do more elegantly. Other times the series of images alone, wordless, works just fine.
    I'm not too fussed either way.
     
  10. as a general rule I prefer the narrative, if any, to be in the photo rather than accompanying it. In the end however it's a personal choice that no one else can help you make.
    I'm not too fussed either way.​
    how wise
     
  11. A few words or perhaps more than a few words..do they detract from a photograph or add a deeper understanding?​
    It depends on the words and the photograph.
    Sometimes titles and accompanying text are silly or they try to make up for shortcomings in the photograph or they try to add gravitas that isn't visible.
    Sometimes they provide insightful background or accompanying thoughts.
    There's nothing wrong with guiding a viewer in certain situations. NOT every photograph has to speak for itself. Some are meant to illustrate something which would and could not be obvious without text.
    .
    Hey, please explain or l'll send you to the Philosophy of Photography forum.​
    LOL. Some folks even drop by the Philosophy forum periodically to unload. Philosopher wannabees of sorts.
     
  12. Less said the better. It drives me crazy at photo a group I sometimes go to how much a person can say about a photo before they present it. Probably the main reason I quit going. Sometimes if deteriorates into a bunch of excuses: "didn't have time to mount it", "sorry about the bad exposure/focus". Shut up and show the work! And, I don't give a damn about your technique. And, while I'm ranting, no more photos on canvas, glass, or metal. It's an insult to the hard won battle photography has fought to be accepted as an art for in it's own right to then print it on canvas and try to make it look like a painting.
     
  13. I think that the answer depends on the context in which the images are being displayed. For instance, if I am utilizing an image in the context of an entry on my personal blog, I would incorporate descriptive/narrative text to help explain what I see as the significance or main point of interest of the image. Also, the descriptive text (and associated keywords) are utilized by the search engines to locate relevant images and web pages. With no descriptive text, the images would never show up in the results of a query.
     
  14. Got in on this one late. Since you cannot get away from having a title for your photograph, even if it is "Untitled," make sure you have a title that will not in some way turn off your viewers. If you have a cute title like "New dress for an Old Hag" it will prejudice your viewers against your photograph, as will a cliche like "A Sense of Beauty." Less usually more. "Composition 5" is better than something that tells the viewer how to look at your photograph.
    With documentary photographs you do need verbal explanations. Best to stick a detached journalistic style.
     
  15. Thank you for the respones.
    The conclusion I have drawn is that a photograph if it is good enough stands on its own. However, some photographs lend themselves to a few words. Documentry photography is another story.
    Thanks for removing my cobwebs.
     
  16. a photograph if it is good enough stands on its own.​
    "If it is good enough" seems to fly in the face of "What matters is that we are creating our own vision and enjoyment....." So, if we want to add some words to our photo, or a photo to our words, or create the words and photo together, for whatever reason, maybe it doesn't mean it's not good enough. Maybe it means it's part of creating our own vision.
     
  17. Wow, Fred you are sharp today.Cross forum postings.
    "Maybe it means it's part of creating our own vision."
    Well, maybe....but for my personal vision it can stand alone. That is for anyone.
     
  18. Well, maybe....but for my personal vision it can stand alone. That is for anyone.​
    Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle.
    Sounds like a photographic rule or generalization . . . often ignored, or understood and transcended, by those with vision.
     
  19. Love you, Fred. Where is the wiggle? There are no hard and fast rules Fred even by those with so called creative visions. Just opinions,Fred.
    Just wonder who are these special blessed people you are taken with. Pray do tell.
     
  20. They are people who don't need to say things like "a photograph if it is good enough stands on its own." They are comfortable enough with what they do and what they like to know that others do things differently and like different things. They understand that many photos don't stand on their own and are tied to words and that such photos can be plenty good enough, even if these people don't particularly want to work that way. These people are not special or blessed, just open to many different photographic possibilities, even ones they don't themselves gravitate toward.
    Opinions aren't sacred. They can be questioned.
     
  21. "However, some photographs lend themselves to a few words"
    For Fred.
     
  22. "They are people who don't need to say things like "a photograph if it is good enough stands on its own."
    I am one of those people who need to say " if a photograph is good enough it will stand on its own" However, I did say that some photos lend themselves to a few words.
    I also said there are no rules. Read Fred.
     
  23. Ton Mestrom [​IMG], Sep 23, 2011; 12:03 p.m.
    as a general rule I prefer the narrative, if any, to be in the photo rather than accompanying it. In the end however it's a personal choice that no one else can help you make.
    Ton, has said it for me,Fred.
    Thanks Fred for your thoughts.
     
  24. You're welcome. I never questioned Ton's thoughts because they made sense and he's always open to a variety of kinds of photos and presentations. Your statement didn't seem as open as Ton's. That's why I questioned it. I guess we are now in agreement. (Wiggle, wiggle, wink, wink.)
     
  25. "I guess we are now in agreement. (Wiggle, wiggle, wink, wink.)"
    A big hug.
     
  26. Communications are always a challenge when you write them on a cold white slab. No body language or facial expression and different cultures even speaking the same language..the white cold slab.
     
  27. My opinion is since it's ME taking the photograph it will be ME who decides if I want to put a word or two, location or anything else I think might be needed with the photograph. It's really not up to anyone else. It's MY creation.
     

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