Titles For Photo Essay

This month's Photojournalism Links collection highlights 10 excellent photo essays from across the world spanning five continents, including Pete Muller's powerful work shot in the Ebola-ridden Sierra Leone. His two sets of photographs, featured below, were made on assignment for National Geographic, and are the first two in a four-part series examining the epidemic in West Africa. Muller's pictures document the battle fought by medical workers, body collectors, and burial teams to bring the crisis ravaging Freetown and the country, under control. The story and images from the city's King Tom cemetery are particularly harrowing; in just a few months, it has been expanded to three times its former size and the large number of fresh burial mounds make it look more like a construction site than a typical graveyard.

Pete Muller: How Ebola Found Fertile Ground in Sierra Leone's Chaotic Capital | How the Fight Against Ebola Tested a Culture’s Traditions (National Geographic News)

Uriel Sinai: In Africa, Mosquito Nets Are Putting Fish at Risk (The New York Times) These stunning photographs by Uriel Sinai from Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia, show how mosquito nets meant for Malaria protection have ended up being widely used in fishing, since they are cheaper than actual fishing nets and can be even more effective, especially in shallow waters.

Andy Spyra: The enemy within: Boko Haram’s reign of terror across Northern Nigeria | The enemy within: A closer look at survivors of Boko Haram attacks across Northern Nigeria (The Washington Post In Sight) The German photographer has spent more than three years documenting the northern Nigeria. His pictures provide a rare view into communities under Boko Haram's terror.

Mosa'ab Elshamy: Exploring the Mawlids of Egypt (TIME LightBox) These excellent photographs capture spiritual celebrations within Egyptian Sufism.

Manu Brabo: In Ukraine, The Frozen Tears of Donetsk (Paris Match L'Instant) The Spanish photographer, known for his work in Syria, is now in Ukraine to document the upsurge in fighting. | See also Brabo's work on the MSNBC and Al Jazeera America websites

Lynn Johnson: Healing Soldiers (The National Geographic) Compelling portraits of U.S. soldiers treating their war traumas by participating in art therapy, where they create painted masks to express how they feel. The images painted on them symbolize themes such as death, physical pain, and patriotism.

George Steinmetz: Treading Water (The National Geographic) These pictures from Florida's southeastern coastline capture a region with a lot to lose as sea levels continue to rise.

Álvaro Laiz: Ninjas: Gold Rush In Mongolia (Wired Raw File) These photographs document the hard and dangerous work of amateur gold miners.

Mark Abramson: An Immigrant’s Dream for a Better Life (The New York Times Lens)Extraordinary, in-depth photo essay that follows the life of a young Mexican immigrant woman and her family in California.

Emanuele Satolli: In the Bag for North (TIME LightBox) Revealing still life images of Central American migrants' sparse belonging on their journey toward the United States.

Some of our clients come to us with a title already picked out, before they've even begun to write. Others wait for the title to be revealed to them in the writing. Which way is better? It depends.

We get asked this question a lot: how do I choose a title for my book?

Should I start with a title?

Choosing a title for your memoir, especially a thematic title, before you start your project can be a great guiding force, helping you narrow the focus of your book as you write. For instance, Arthur and Lila Mae Debenham had chosen a title for their book years before they even started the process: Tender Mercies. They knew they wanted their book to reflect the "tender mercies" that God had bestowed upon them in their course through life, and this theme guided our efforts in the writing process, helping us decide what events to include and what to leave out.

But if you don't have a title already picked out, don't panic. It's much more common for writers to choose a title after they've begun or even finished writing. Often, the writing process itself will reveal a theme, phrase, or tone that suggests a title.

Thematic title

Start by considering what themes run through your narrative. What are the most important ideas in your book? Love, faith, survival? Look for a title that reflects the message you want to convey. Here are some examples of thematic titles from some of our clients:

Look Beyond the Weeds by Beverley Sorenson Taylor reflects her undying optimism and positive outlook expressed in her book, despite some difficult circumstances.

Unfaltering Faith by Hank Hoole details the author's religious conversion and how his faith has shaped his life. Riches of His Grace by Fay Miles and the above-mentioned Tender Mercies also reflect this theme.

Life is What You Make It by Nif Hicken. This title was a direct quote from Dr. Hicken that summed up his philosophy. "Life is what you make it. It's up to you to make it good and happy."

Dancing My Way Through Sanpete by Lois Johnson and I Could Have Danced All Night by Barbara Christensen each incorporated their authors' love of dance.

Puns, double meanings, word play, and humorous titles

Some day I will write a memoir entitled The Road Unraveled (a play on M. Scott Peck's book titled The Road Less Traveled, which was in turn taken from a line from a Robert Frost poem.) I wrote a little book about my childhood called Alison Wonderland, which is what my grade school nemesis used to call me. 

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