Hush Hush, Sweet Charlotte
This is a preamble to the point of the post - the importance of written messages in our experience. If we are used to seeing them and to interpreting them, they let us function in any setting - but they also colour our perception of the visuals. It happens in the street and it happens in the photographic club exhibition.
At this point please do not think that I am caning the clubs exclusively - it also happens in major exhibitions but to a minor extent...by the time images get to a museum wall they have been seen and corrected by a dozen busy bodies and are generally helpful, rather than the reverse.
Not so at the club level. The aspiring artist enters the July Open Monochrome Portrait With Half-Gainer And A Twist Of Lemon Section of the Projected Print Division of the 3rd Mounted Pixellators...and gives the image a very poignant and telling title. The title expresses the basic angst of a society guilt-ridden with the Jungian/gestalt parameters. Anyone who sees it starts searching their soul.
The judge starts searching his pockets for the car keys...or a knife.
Anything you say in a title modifies the impact of the image, and unfortunately it frequently detracts from it. It steers the viewer away from the message of the image, and it may actually mislead badly. the title may refer to some cultural idea that the viewer is not familiar with - it may actually seem irrelevant or even insulting. What might have been pleasant becomes the opposite.
Likewise, anything you say about an image that you are explaining to viewers is subject more to your tongue than to your eyes. Recently I saw a very good image that was spoiled - and my opinion of the speaker reduced - by a careless coupling of a political message with the visual. Of course one always risks prodding a raw spot when sex, politics, or religion enters polite conversation and it is no different if the conversation is in a drawing-room or a lecture hall.
So...what to do. Show your picture. Present it as well as circumstance permits. If it is a place, name the place. If it is a person, or a ship or a breed of dog, state the name as such. If the image needs a time definition to be understandable - and few do - then state this.
Then stop. If you feel any need to further add to the image that you have put up on the screen stand in front of the projector and make shadow rabbits. I can do a very good flying dove to go with this.