170404 Names - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

Michelangelo is alleged to have said, and I don't know if it's true, that "every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it." It's unclear if this applies to bricks, but it's how I feel that photo titles work when they're at their best.

Not every image I post has a title, but I won't show a print if I don't know what to call it. Not having a name is usually a sign that I haven't figured out the image yet, and haven't clarified its presentation to the point where it's making sense.

Often the name comes directly from the image, a snippet of text or some other signifier, and sometimes it's a more obscure relationship. My Horizon images are the times when they're taken, which is what my other camera was doing while I photographed these bricks at Humber Bay park; the most recent photo I brought to the Forum was a phrase from a biography of a poet who was quoted on a protest sign.

When the name of a photo is right it's just a natural and undeniable fit.


Imagine that you're sitting in a circle with a group of people you don't know. Maybe a team-building exercise is about to start, or some sort of a workshop, and the event leader asks everyone to introduce themselves to the group.

What do you say?

Most people who I've heard choose one of two phases, and they usually choose the same one each time.

"I am __________."

"My name is __________."

I'm not entirely sure what the difference is, and certainly can't extrapolate beyond my immediate experience. I'm firmly in the "my name is" camp; this feels like acknowledging what people call me, but holding back judgement on whether or not that's me. My favourite person always uses "I am", and she has the presence and personality that makes it unequivocal. Perhaps I'm reading too much into this, but it seems like a little thing that speaks to something deeper. Names, and how we relate to them, are rarely completely arbitrary. 


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