You are Here Profotos > Education > Professional Photography Magazine > Pro Article Professional Photography Magazine

1. Software Review - Alien Skin's Exposure

Get the Pro Guide!

Enter your email address:

Photography Books
Up to 50% off!

Click here to visit our photo bookstore where you can order photography books.

by Rob Gray

For the viewer, the meaning of the print is his meaning. If I try to impose mine by intruding descriptive titles, I insult the viewer, the print, and myself.
—Ansel Adams

Many great photographers either didn’t name their photos or gave them purely descriptive titles. The pull quote above makes Ansel Adams’ views fairly clear. Edward Weston did caption his photos, but with names like Eroded Rock, Cow Tree Barn and Pepper #30 I think it’s fair to say that he wasn’t trying to add any meaning to his images.

I have always been of two minds about captioning photographs. On the one hand I think it is possible to indicate to the viewer my thoughts about the image with an appropriate caption. On the other hand, as Adams says, why should I impose my opinions on the viewer. Nevertheless I do caption my photos and believe that the caption should, ideally, add some value. It should at least give the viewer an inkling of what I think about the image.

The photo Tolkien’s Trees is a good example. Why Tolkien’s Trees? Having read ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of The Rings’ several times, I consider myself an avid J R R Tolkien fan. This grotto, with its twisted trees and running brook, just reminded me of Middle Earth. No scene in particular, but I can imagine Gollum in such a place, admiring his ‘Precious’. As soon as I saw the first working print I knew what I would call this image.

This is a good title as an incident in my gallery testifies. One day two girls, around ten years of age, were looking at this photo. One said “You can see why he’s called it Tolkien’s Trees”. The other agreed. If you can strike a chord with a couple of ten-year-olds you’re doing pretty well with the naming of your photos.

I got it right on this occasion, but I admit that I don’t always do so. However the alternative of calling everything "Untitled" is not an option for me.

Sometimes I know what the caption will be the instant I see an image, while at other times I rack my brains for ages trying to think of a good one. It’s not uncommon for the release of an image to be delayed by weeks for lack of a caption. Occasionally I give up and, in despair, call an image Three Rocks and a Trunk or something similar. Normally this is an indication that the image is not one of my best.

About the Author: The photographer Rob Gray (aka the Feral Fotographer) has been a photographer (either a professional or amateur) since 1971 when he bought his first camera in Panama.

Since then he has photographed just about everything from cheetahs in Africa through disaster victims in Australia to lemon slices in London.

Over the last few years Rob has been holding workshops and teaching at the Canberra School of Photography. He enjoys these activities and hopes to be able to keep them going in some form while travelling. As to exactly how, he's not sure yet but if you need a guest speaker at your camera club give him a call.

Rob is 47, has semi-retired and lives permanently on-the-road looking for images and avoiding real work as much as possible. He photographs the Australian landscape with a 5x4" field camera.

You can see more of Rob's work at the following websites:
Profotos - Rob Gray

Questions, Comments? Look here: The help section
Broken link(s)? Email us at:
Testimonials. Visitor/Member Comments: News about us!

Select "Photography" under
Program of Study to see
Photo Schools

Our Award Winning Photo Galleries

The Profotos Member Photographer Galleries
The Member Galleries at have won many awards and accolades from around the world. Click here to apply for your own gallery.

Check out the galleries of our member photographers and experience an interactive online photography exhibit like no other!

The Virtual Photography Reference Desk
> Schools/Tours
> Manufacturers
> Profotos Magazine
> Processing Labs
> Magazines
> Digital Equip.
> Stock Agencies
> Photo Glossary
> Organizations
> Technical Charts
> Photo Masters
> Photo Timeline

Free Professional Photography Memberships

> Apply Today!
> The Galleries
> Member List
> Testimonials
> Member FAQ's

Click the button below for help!

You are Here Profotos > Education > Professional Photography Magazine > Pro Article
 Apply for a Gallery
 Member Galleries
 Featured Gallery
 Larry's Galleries
 Gallery Selection
 Profotos Magazine
 Photograhy Glossary
 The Reference Desk
 Search Engine
 Photo Masters
 Become a Member
 Member Selection
 Benefits Summary
 List of Members
 Refer Others
 Photographer List
 Pro WebRing
 Monthly Newsletter
 Link to Us
 Custom Site Design
 Profotos Store
 Advertise With Us
 Online Auctions
 The Bookstore
 Legal Information
 Who We Are
 Company History
 Contact Profotos
 The FAQ's
 Copyright Info.
Copyright ©1999-2011
(an independently owned company). All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and Safety Information are applicable to this site.

Our Address:, 681 Inverness Drive, Fairborn, OH 45324 USA
Contact us via telephone: 937-660-0845