If you read my last blog you will know that I am in the process of preparing for my first exhibition. When I say “my exhibition,” I have a small space to myself alongside five other photographers. But it’s my space. And I love it. Or, at least, I will.
I’ve learned a lot in the last few days. Decided who will print the photographs; narrowed in on a few potential paper types; worked out the optimum sizes; considered framing and not framing and decided on framing; looked at an unbelievable range of shades of white....
I’ve even met my framer.
And all the decisions have been mine. Something I guess I’m not used to. No one else's opinions to listen to this time. I suppose it doesn’t really matter to anyone else. It’s my show.
And as the options narrow as each decision is made, one decision begins to loom large.
Should I title my photographs?
One of the things that draws me to street photography is the way it captures a place and event in time. I remember looking at early photographs of my home town and imagining how it must have been to have lived there decades before - no cars; long-since-disappeared timber framed houses where they “put up a parking lot,” and so on. Glimpses of the past still fascinate me. Today, there’s remains something in me which needs to record dates and places. That’s fine. So perhaps I should scrawl Paris, August 2017 alongside a cafe scene. But then again, do I need to broadcast those alongside the photograph for everyone else just because I’m interested? My framers suggests not recording the place because people then bring their own interpretation. A scene that appeals to them, and perceive as being London could turn out to be Berlin. What may be Paris for some could be London, or Barcelona for others...
But why do I feel the need to add a title? Perhaps it’s the story teller in me. The best street photography undoubtedly hints at ( or even broadcasts) a narrative. Does a title steer it too heavily or does it enable the viewer to see it a little more as the photographer saw it?
Maybe it’s another way of fixing a particular shot in the memory. When you’ve left the exhibition, turned the page or browsed to another site, how do you conjure up the memory of the image if you have no words to do so? Can you really recall a particular shot if it is simply referred to by the way the light falls across a scene and who it falls upon? How do you refer to it in conversation?
So, having written this, I’ve decided that my framed photographs will be titled. Probably place-less. I like the fact that each shot is part of an untold story. Sometimes the stories will fit together in a longer narrative. Sometimes they stand alone. Whether they are true representations, or entirely imagined snaps from a fragment of time, is irrelevant. They exist. And they deserve a name. Like children.