We all like to name our photos. Indeed there’s nothing wrong with that – an imaginative name for a cool photo can be our final little flourish. In the digital age it’s always good to tag your photos to help people find them and hey, anything’s better than IMG_0887.jpg isn’t it?
The only problem I have with naming photos is that normally they are named after they are taken. We select a name to fit the image. Now that’s perfectly fine when these names might be “Leaning Tower of Pisa” and “Billy’s first bike” when you’re just documenting your travels and your everyday snapshots, even better if they were “View from Mount Fuji” or “Sperm Whale Breaching”.
Now the point is, whatever level your photography is at, if you have any aspirations of building a cohesive body of work you need to plan. You need to have a concept, an idea, a vision. Think of it as if you were writing a book or directing a film. You wouldn’t just start writing or filming random stuff and then think of a title that would pull it all together, would you? You’d have the plan, the concept and the title or working title first. So ideally the name is created before the photograph.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking photos for their own sake and going out to photograph whatever crosses your path is a wonderful thing to do.
What I’m suggesting is for you to give yourself a brief and then try to construct an image or a series of images that fills that brief in the most creative possible. My underlying philosophy when it comes to photography is that the images you produce can be so much more than capturing a likeness of what’s in front of you. This works for me when I’m doing my job but I also find myself going through the same process for most of my own, personal photography. You have the opportunity to communicate and share with other people through the imagery you produce. The more you consider what you will be photographing, the more meaningful your images are likely to be. It can be difficult at first but it’s definitely worth persevering with. Keep at it and you will start developing a style and perhaps a greater ability to communicate through this wonderful medium. Imagine looking back at your photos in several years time and being able to recognise not just where you were when you took a photo, but also what you were feeling and what you were trying to express.
Now I realise that I take this very seriously because, after all, it’s what I do and it makes me the photographer I am. But I do encourage you to take something from it – how much depends totally on you and what photography means to you. A lot is said about ‘Legacy’ these days and I guess that when I’m long,long gone, a little of me will still be here in my photos. And if the future generations of my family could know a little bit about me through the photographs I took, wouldn’t that be lovely?