How I name my photos

Ever wonder how artists come up with names for their art?

I do too, sometimes. Many of my images remain untitled for a while; the colors and shapes in the photograph entice me, but the overall impact isn't always something I can articulate. Names elude me. 

These days, nearly all of my art has one-word titles, which was a convention that stuck a few years back. A few names are literal, like Coast and Seaside. 

Abstract photo of a coastal bay with spring green forming a u-shape on the left side and a blue bay with waves on the left

Many are states or qualities to which you might aspire: Calm, Peace, Brave, Clarity.

Most of the time I create names by gathering the feelings or sense or place or season that an image evokes. For example, Celebrate feels like a dance party in the sky to me. 

Blue violet water in the bottom quarter of the photo, with a sky filled with streamers of pink, orange, yellow bands from a vibrant sunset


Naming art, for me, is usually a very unsexy process of looking up synonyms and related words to find the right cadence and feeling for the photograph. Usually they call to me once I find them, as the photograph nearly jumps up and down in excitement telling me that's her name. It takes time. Sometimes images will languish around for a while, waiting for a name before I release them into the world.

But you can't rush it.

Every so often, I misname an image and she gets renamed later. Most infamously (to me), I once called this poor baby Flow, which now feels a bit like naming your child Bambi or Delilah. Just don't. (Side note: I've now googled variations of "baby names for strippers" and the internet ad machines now think I'm pregnant. Swell.)

Abstract landscape photo of a lake scene with cobalt blue in the bottom third and red and orange undulations on the horizon and blue sky above


I mean, sure, Flow is a good state to achieve in life or yoga, but it's a little too reminiscent of a woman's least favorite days and even my male friends were making jokes. She screamed at me nonstop for weeks. Finally, I renamed her Breathe, mirroring what we were all able to do once that awful name was scratched off her birth certificate.