on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Defining Self Expression in Photography

Have I Something to Say About the World? Or Nothing to Say?

Chris Murray

Chris Murray is a full-time photographer, instructor, and writer from New York State. His photographs are not meant to be a literal document of the woods, mountains, and rivers of his home state, but rather a creative expression of his relationship with the places that ceaselessly inspire him.


The important thing is: you must have something to say about the world.~Paul Strand

I have always had difficulty titling my photographs. It seems an easy task, yet I find it to be anything but. I was reminded of this recently as I added images to my website during a long overdue update. Most of the titles ended up being literal (e.g., Sugar Maple in Autumn), some metaphorical (e.g., Solitude), and a few cringe-worthy. I have long wondered why the difficulty. It seems contradictory that many titles are literal when I preach about photography's expressive potential and the idea that photos can be more than illustrations of literal things and serve as a metaphor for emotions. To name the photograph after the subject matter when that is not what the picture is about feels wrong. And yet, I am uncertain what many of them are “about.” Shouldn’t the title be self-evident if it’s my creation?

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