Titles and Purpose

Museum titling is something I’ve always found to be interesting. This explains a lot of my fascination with Fred Wilson’s artwork and curation. The way we title and display things has huge repercussions on the way people view and react to them.

With my own photography, I get the chance to play with titling my own work. Whether it’s a title field in flickr or the file name I have to create when scanning, I’m now forced to come up with something as the name for each photo I take. I’m not the only one who struggles with this. Kip Praslowicz has a good rundown of the usual ways photographers title their photos—I think all of us who post photos online have used many, if not most, of his listed ways.

Kip’s list is really breaking down the numerous reasons people take or display photos (or any art). Each different title denotes a different intended audience for the photo—a different purpose for the piece. As someone juggling multiple photographic identities, I often end up with photographs which can fit into many different categories. The title and description I choose will depend on what purpose.

To revisit a previous example of a photo which fits in multiple categories:
time to go home
Family snapshot:
Rosina holding Walter during the only quiet moment we had—the wait for the hospital to get our discharge papers ready.

Kaiser Hospital, Santa Clara, 2009

I’m not sure why photography is treated the opposite of other artwork in museums. Most museums distinguish between art and craft by describing art through its content and craft through its purpose or provenance.

Author: Nick Vossbrink

Blogging about Photography, Museums, Printing, and Baseball Cards from both Princeton New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay Area. On Twitter as @vossbrink, WordPress at njwv.wordpress.com, and the web at vossbrink.net

3 thoughts on “Titles and Purpose”

  1. Pingback: Context | n j w v

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