When people talk to me about my iPhoneography, they tell me how much they like my titles and how they see them as integral to my work. For a long time I didn’t think about it much. Being a copywriter by profession, it was just something I did. I would take a quick look at the image before I posted it and come up with a snappy title—a word foundation from which to launch into the visual territory covered by the image.
You probably wouldn’t read a book or go see a movie without a title, so you might want to think about whether you want to release your photo babies into the world unnamed. Titles help put us at ease, working as tiny hand holders that settle us comfortably into the act of viewing. They also shed light on what artists are trying to express through their work.
So how do you come up with a good title? There are certain title buckets that can provide good material for your all-important titling endeavors. Let’s explore ten of my images and their titles through this lens.
The common phrase
Common phrases are an excellent source for a provocative title. (Two-word phrases in particular)
Chicago, April 2013
Here’s another example:
Santa Monica, June 2013
Sometimes repurposing a title or phrase from the movies really works.
Inglewood, California, October 2012
The Title From Within
You can get lucky on occasion and find the title, or something close to it, in words that appear in your photograph.
The Benevolent Assassin
Chinatown, San Francisco, February 2013
The Fake Movie or Book Title
Creating a movie- or-book-style title that echoes the implied narrative of a photograph can add to the sense of story.
The White Sneaker
Jerusalem, February 2012
When the chips fall just right, you might find yourself gifted with a punny title that really works.
Joshua Tree, May 2013
Often you can insert the name of the person in your photograph into the title to good effect.
Marilyn and Ralph
Chicago, February 2012
Mythical and Literary Creatures
Literature and mythology can provide a wellspring of inspiration when you’re searching for a suggestive title.
Culver City, California, March 2012
Less is More
On occasion, leaving out a piece of a well-know phrase can create a title that provokes an ‘a-ha moment.’
Joshua Tree, California, December 2014
Irony and word play can frequently work together to create a thought-provoking title.
Los Angeles, January 2015
There are many more areas that are ripe for mining and can yield the kind of titles that make people want to explore your iPhone images. I invite you to share some of your strategies in the comments section below.
Dubbed “LA’s iPhoneography Wizard” by Forbes Magazine, Alon Goldsmith is an award-winning photographer who has been featured extensively across media and exhibited in galleries around the globe. His recent achievements include Honorable Mentions in the Mobile Photography Awards, a category win in the Hipstography Awards, publication in the Los Angeles Times and Reader’s Digest, features in Snap Magazine, a one-man show in Brentwood and San Diego, and a group show at HaleARTS in Santa Monica. His work is currently on display as part of Click. Boom. Amazing!, an exhibition put on by Hipstography at the Sofitel Brussels.