How to Choose a Photo Video Title Based on
3 Key Characteristics

So, is the title really that important? YES  it is!

How to choose a photo video title is sometimes a challenge. The title has to be the right length, in the right way, and with the right message.

You’ve heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”  Hogwash — a book is usually judged by its cover – which contains THE TITLE! The title is usually what causes a person to pick up a book in the first place and flip through it.  It’s the first impression! 

It’s the same with your photo video. Often, the title creates interest and wonder making your viewers want to keep watching or move on. That is why it is very important to know guidelines for how to choose a photo video title.

Remember, you are telling a story. 

Would you rather read “The Giving Tree” or The Boy and the Tree? “Where the Sidewalk Ends” or A Book of Poems by Shel Silverstein? It is all about choosing the words.

Characteristics of Good Photo Video Titles

Length

The ideal length for a title is 5 words or fewer; however, if you must go longer, it is a good idea to try to break it into a title and subtitle. Also, be aware that in some instances one word will work, but that can be a little harder to do. The word has to have significance.

I have broken the 5 word  rule before. Yep. I actually titled a video with an eleven-word quote from Shel Silverstein and it worked because the viewers loved the quote.

“All the colors I am inside have not been invented yet.”

Let me give you another example. For one video I created, there was a signature word that kept coming up when people were asked to describe the subject of the video. The word was LOVE. Now, I could have titled it Love, but instead, I used “Where Love Resides” and began the video with a Bible verse about love 
(I Corinthians 14: 4-8). Then, the theme of the video was the person showing love.

Emotion/Impression

Impression is an idea, feeling, or opinion about something or someone. Impressions and emotions go hand-in-hand. It is imperative that the title evokes emotion or creates an impression. 

Does the title create an emotional response, or a memory? Does it create interest or anticipation? That is exactly what is needed for the characteristic of emotion/impression. And you want the viewer to feel the need to see more.

Let’s go back to the illustration I gave earlier “Where Love Resides.” Some say that LOVE is not considered an emotion, but it evokes emotions such as happiness, contentment, trust, etc. Actually, emotions are often defined as being seen in facial expression. Complex, I know, but the bottom line is how do you feel when you hear the title? 

Clarity

This last characteristic is fairly basic. Is the title clear? That doesn’t mean you have to give everything away in the title, but it does mean that the title should be transparent or pure. If you try to be too clever the clarity may be lost.  This is not the place to play word games or use puns or current slang. You can, however, use current expressions in your title. Remember, the title is part of your work and will be tied to the video for generations to come. 

This DOES NOT mean the title should be dull. Far from it. The English language allows for a lot of variation and titles with a bit more originality will be most successful. You can also have a play on words like Back to the Future !

 One more thing about clarity. Increased clarity also works to help increase memorability. 

Let's look at some cool examples of (book) titles...

In this section, we will have some fun so let’s just take a minute to look at best seller titles from Amazon. You know that publishing companies have very sophisticated methods for choosing titles – so let’s see what the experts came up:.

choosing title

Title: Royal

Immediately makes me think of stories about kings, queens and other royalty.  It immediately gives me a general idea of the topic and let’s me know that if I would be interested or not. This also tells me that if I don’t like stories about the royals or period pieces, I probably won’t like it.

The title is very easy to remember and is clear! 

Length: +++++
Emotion/Impression: +++
Clarity: +++++

Title: Becoming

The one-word title is very inspiring and elicits thoughts of hope and betterment. By definition it means the process of coming to be something or of passing into a state.

The magic of a title like this is that it conveys the possibility that if she did it, you can do it too and she will share how. You know it is a book of hope – just by the title.  Becoming implies ongoing improvement.

Very easy to remember and intriguing but it doesn’t really give away what will be found inside. 

 Length: +++++
Emotion/Impression: +++++
Clarity: +++++

Title: FEARLESS: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown

Oh my gosh, that is a mouthful!  But, the primary title is FEARLESS. and that alone lets you know this is not a leisure read. The subtitle immediately pares down the audience with the specifics. You know exactly what this book is about and you probably know if it will hold your interest.. The word Fearless is easy to remember and the title is further modified after the colon. A great way to handle such a long title. 

Just from the full title, I can also determine if this book is not for me – for example maybe I don’t like high action, adrenalin-producing books.

FYI: The initial title was: Fearless: The Heroic Story of One Navy SEAL’s Sacrifice in the Hunt for Osama Bin Laden and the Unwavering Devotion of the Woman Who Loved Him (!)

 Length: ++
Emotion/Impression: +++++
Clarity: +++++

Title: Where the Crawdads Sing

This title is pretty good – gives off a great vibe to the point that you can almost smell and hear the low country.  It hearkens images of the bayou, mosquitoes, and southern food. But notice, there are no details to really give the story line away. It leaves just enough question that you want to know more. And based on the down-to-earth title, it seems this is a book about down-to-earth people. If I like action books, maybe this oone is not for me.

In reality, the name called to me and I read the book. By the way, I loved it!

Length: +++++
Emotion/Impression: ++++
Clarity: ++

Recap: How to Chose a Photo Video Title

  1. Consider the essence and tone of your video. Do you have a central theme?

     

  2. Review your photos to identify any patterns that emerge. Do most of the photos involve sports, or music, or family, etc? If so, perhaps that is incorporated into the title.

     

  3. The ideal length for a title is 5 words or fewer; however, if you must go longer, it is a good idea to try to break it into a title and subtitle. Also, be aware that in some instances a one word will work, but that can be difficult to do unless (there is always an unless) the person has a single word that they tend to live by. 
  1. Can you interject a little mystery and intrigue with the title? Sometimes the title alone will pique enough interest to draw the viewers into the story. Be creative without being being too complex or trying too hard to be clever.

     

  2. Let your title contain key words or phrases that describe the main theme, person or idea of the video. Keep it clear, meaning not cliched or jumbled. And – make sure it is easy to say. I have seen titles that are really difficult to enunciate — let alone, remember.

NEXT STEP: Grab a notebook and start capturing all of your title ideas. Then go through and ask how well they meet the characteristics.

So, there you have it! Hope you got some inspirational ideas from the best seller titles. Yes, I know you aren’t writing a book – but you are telling a story just as they are!