What’s In a Name?

Gerry van der Walt All Authors Leave a Comment

Wildlife photography is about telling stories.

The way you photograph, process and ultimately present your images will all play a part in how people will perceive your images but there is one part of the story that does not always get the attention it deserves.

The name or caption you give your image.

Think about it.

Photography is an art, a very personal thing, and sometimes the story we feel very passionate about and would like to share with people is difficult to tell.  Sure, when you clicked the shutter you knew exactly what you were going for in your shot but your viewer might not.  It is up to you as the photographer to use all the tools at your disposal to convey your original vision.

Your story.

Apart from helping you tell your story the captions you add to your own images will also influence the way people perceive your images and photography.  If you always add a soppy quote you will eventually be seen as that kind of artist.  If you always go for a funny caption you will eventually be seen as, well, a photographer who produces funny images.

Check this out.

I have taken the exact same image of a yawning cheetah and given it three different names.

GerryvanderWalt-Cheetah-Blog

Pretty straightforward yeah?

I simply called it as it is without trying to be funny, clever or emotional.  The image name tells me exactly what I am looking at and the focus is the image, not the name.

GerryvanderWalt-Cheetah-Blog

Slightly different.

By changing the name of my image I have added a new dimension to the image which will change the way people will look at it.  Does the name now become more important than the actual image?

One more example.

GerryvanderWalt-Cheetah-Blog

By including a tagline like this I am pushing for funny.

The original story of the image has now been changed completely and the focus has shifted from an image with a name to a funny tagline with an image attached to it.

Would you agree that the name or caption you add to your images can affect the way your image is perceived?  Affect your story?

Hey, I’m first in line for a good laugh but if you are going to keep on trying to be funny when presenting your wildlife images – do you think people will take you seriously? Take your images seriously?

Will they appreciate your images for the technical skill, great composition and the amazing moment that you captured or will they just look at it and dismiss it as another quick laugh before scrolling to the next best thing.

There is a time and a place for everything and hey, each to his own, but I believe that if you are proud of your own wildlife images you should present them in a way that captures the reason why you clicked the shutter in the first place.  You might not get as many likes or shares on Facebook but at least you’ll be keeping it real and the people who then like your images will be doing so for the right right reason – a good wildlife image!

When you next name or caption your images, take a second to think how it will affect the way people look at and perceive your image.  You’ve taken the time to capture, process and present the image – give it the respect it deserves!

Until next time.

Gerry van der Walt

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