Keeping your photos organized can help put a method to the madness when it comes to going through hundreds of photographs. Whether it’s for a job, your own collection, or to use in a portfolio, naming and titling your photos can drastically narrow down the options you have to look through rather than going through every file.
So, how do you name and title your photos?
- Literally – what setting, object, person is pictured in the photo
- By mood – what mood is captured in the photo
- By emotion – what emotional response is it going for
- Abstract names – created by you
- Backstory name – perhaps a series, based on a backstory
- By keyword – subject someone may search by
Whichever way you choose, the name and title should be memorable and easily searchable. This will make putting albums and collages together much quicker and, if you showcase the photo, the title can catch the attention of potential clients.
Let’s get into more detail about some of the naming conventions so you can choose one that works for you.
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The Literal Meaning
One of the names or titles you can use is literally describing what is in the picture. A title like “Boy kissing girl” or “Purple Flowers at the Park” can be a direct way to remind yourself or let the client know what is in the picture.
If you’re organizing a bunch of photos, looking at a direct title can help let you know what it is without having to open every file.
Another aspect that you can label the photos is by literally naming the action that is happening in the picture. This can be a great strategy if you’re doing an action shoot, or there is a lot going on in the pictures you take.
This can also be attractive to clients since the title speaks for itself. It’s another great way to tell what the photo is by title alone when looking at files.
Another way you can name photos are by the mood it sets when you look at it. Whether it’s a soothing sunset or energizing morning jog, you can use names to let you or your clients know what mood you were capturing when you took the picture. You can even name them based on the mood you were going for, or what you want your clients to feel.
Pictures can capture certain moods and emotions that words sometimes fail to capture. This is why naming the mood can help provide some of that insight to your clients. These titles can help your clients understand your work and where you were going with each shot.
This can be super helpful when organizing it as well if it goes by mood.
Most photos can emit strong emotions to both you and your audience. Your title should reflect that emotion to power further the emotional response you receive when looking at it. Depending on what type of emotion you’re going for will affect the title you choose. You are the best judge of what emotion your photos captured, so use that your advantage!
Going along the lines of organization, you can also organize your photos by the emotions they cause within you. These can be put in albums, either physically or on your computer. Some of the emotions you can title your photos with are:
The Abstract Meaning
A way you can spruce up a typical photo is by giving it an abstract name or title. This can make the photo more memorable and strike a chord with your audience. You can also give meaning to a photo that others may see as a mundane photo. It may seem daunting to associate meaning to a photo but let your gut feeling guide you.
You also may find that photos derive different meanings than you intended. A photo you shot could turn into something completely different when you sit down to edit it. You can tie this phenomenon to a frame of mind.
You can think differently when you are out on the field versus when you are home relaxing by your computer or camera.
The name of your photo does not need to be 1-2 words. You can have short phrases or even a sentence if you want to provide context to your audience.
This is a perfect trick for those wanting to clue their audience in on what was happening around the photo or maybe why the subjects are reacting the way they are in the photo.
This is a great tool if you’re looking to add emotion and context to your work. Especially if you want to articulate a specific message or target a specific audience. Giving a backstory can also clue in clients who may not immediately understand what you are trying to convey.
Sometimes, using a searchable keyword is important. If you are cataloging photos for a client, you may want to use words that will help that person easily locate what they need.
This allows them to decipher and locate your photos in a way that makes sense to them. Using one or two keywords can do the trick, leaving it up to the client how that phot will be used.
Sometimes if we are too specific and detailed, we can give our clients (or ourselves) tunnel vision when we interpret the work. A neutral keyword can eliminate that risk, and you or your client may find something new.
You can keep it general by simply stating the subject in one or two words. You can also describe the action or emotional connection you have to the photo. This will cue you in as well as your clients on what you are going for, but leaving it open to interpretation. This is a great strategy for more artistic photos you may take or ones that stir emotion within you.
Use Other Mediums
You can also be inspired to title a photo off of a favorite song or movie line. This can tie into an emotional reaction or feeling of nostalgia for yourself or your audience. There’s nothing wrong with using a line or lyric if it encompasses what you want your photo to convey. Plus you’ll pull in more clients who may be inspired by your title choice.
We all make emotional ties to music or movies, which is why they can make us laugh or cry. Photographs and art can accomplish the same thing. It’s only natural that they would pair well together to hit home further that emotional connection. Similar to adding an abstract title to your photo, adding another medium can spruce up your photo.
Overall, you can name or title your photos, whatever makes sense to you. There are so many ways to do this, simply because different ways work for different people, as well as there being so many types of photos being taken and developed around the world. One way of naming a photo may work for one person, while another way works better for another.
It all comes down to how you want your photos to be perceived and what you are shooting them for. A simple name can work if you’re organizing your own personal collection, or you can go artsier if you are showcasing your photos in a gallery.
You’ll want a powerful title that incites emotion if your photos are viewed by a large audience. All in all, use any of these methods to name or title your next photos, whether it’s for yourself for an audience. Have fun with it or take some time to really think about what message you want to convey.