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December contest theme: Great photo titles

Posted by Teresa Hanafin  December 1, 2010 06:00 AM

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"Get Me to the Church on Time" by Ellen Cahir-McFarland of Newton
October contest winner

It's an oft-overlooked element of the photographic process: Choosing an arresting title for your photo.

Whether you are submitting for a contest such as this one, or displaying your photos in a gallery, library, or outdoor show, a great title can be informative, evocative, or even humorous.

In fact, our September "Stormy Weather" judge, Jim Reed, told me how much he liked some of your captions. (Since that wasn't one of the contest criteria, he didn't use that in his judging.)

Now, some believe that photos should speak for themselves and don't need the photographer's perspective or interpretation. That's fine. Others point out that painters, sculptors, and other artists usually title their works, and titles can help convey an artist's thoughts in a succinct way.

If you do display your work, often the venue owner will ask you to display a title next to your images. Their experience has been that patrons do like titles

But you have to be careful not to turn off your patrons with overly sentimental, dramatic, or obscure titles.

Here's a great discussion about the issue on -- read the entry and then all of the comments to get a feeling for what others think.

Then try it yourself. This month's rules:

* You can submit any photo you want. There is no theme. This is strictly an exercise in good titling.

* A photo that has finished in the Top 10 in any previous contest is not eligible.

* Be succinct! Don't try to write an entire caption as the title. I use the backs of my business cards to mount titles beside my photos in my shows; that's not much room. Keep your titles to 10 words or less.

* One photo per photographer.

* Resize large photos to no more than 500 pixels in height.

* The deadline is midnight Dec. 31.

Upload your photo to this gallery and look at others' submissions.


"Catch Me If You Can" by Chris Pokorny
August "Pets at Play" Second Place

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