When it comes to titling and signing your photos there is a number of ways to do it, In my opinion there is also a right and wrong way to do it and you also need to use the right kind of pen to sign with as well depending on the type of photo paper your signing on as well. Ultimately when your titling and signing a photo for a customer you need to keep in consideration that it is going to be framed and the customer is going to want to include your signature and title in the framing but the framer is also going to need something as well and I’ll go into this along with some other considerations as well in this article.
WHERE TO TITLE AND SIGN YOUR PHOTOS
Every photographer will have a “Signature” that they use when signing photos, I know for myself it is totally different to the signature I use when signing documents. But the thing is this signature is always the same and that means it is the same length. This is why when you sign your photos you should always sign on the right hand side as there is no risk of the signature going past the right edge of the photo, as doing this is and looks awful and unprofessional. This allows you to title the image from the left and there is no risk of running short of room and having to block up your writing which will also look just as terrible as going past the right edge.
KEEP IT SHORT AND SWEET
One thing to remember is that the title of your photo should be kept short and sweet, long descriptive titles can look excessive, especially on smaller sized photos. Where possible and appropriate abbreviate locations like NSW for New South Wales etc and do you really need to say “Australia”. Write out your photo title beforehand and see how it looks. Write it out on some blank white paper, the size you would do on the photo and hold it underneath the left edge to see how it looks.
WHAT TO SIGN YOUR PHOTOS WITH
Back in the day photographers were able to get photos done on a paper called Ilfochrome (Cibachrome) it was a beautiful paper so glossy and rich, it was also very expensive and the last thing you wanted to do was to stuff your photo with the pen not working correctly as due to the super high gloss of the paper finding a pen that would sign correctly and all the way through a signature was a nightmare. When Ilfochrome paper was discontinued FujiFlex was its replacement and it again was a beautiful paper and along with it difficult to title and sign with pens.
The one pen that I found gave me the best results on these kinds of super gloss papers was the Staedtler triplus gel pens. This pen has been difficult to find of late and I have now gone to using the Fineliner range of Staedtler pens.
If your titling and signing on the white matt I have seen photographers use a lead pencil and I have done this myself and it looks good. If you’re going to sign on the Matt with an ink-based pen always do a test on the matt with the pen to make sure the ink doesn’t bleed. Get some offcuts from your framer or test it on the back off the matt itself.
Take a damaged photo or some off cuts from your lab of your paper of choice to your local Officeworks and test all their pens on it. Get a feel of a pen you like and see how it is applied to the paper.
DON’T FORGET THE FRAMER
When titling and signing your photos keep in mind that your customer is going to take it to a picture framer to be framed and a matt is going to be put over the photo. So make sure you place your title and signature allowing at least 2mm the bottom edge for the matt to hold the print down and then about 5mm from that so the title and signature has a nice gap from the matt. I have seen a lot of photographers overlook this as they are not involved in the framing process of their photos or when they do sign and title their prints for framing they are already mounted.
DIFFERENT PEN TYPES AND THICKNESS
There are so many different types of pen out there and all different types of colours when it comes to signing your photos. One thing to keep in mind when buying a pen is the thickness of the end as this will determine how your signature and title will look. What might look fine on a big print will look terrible on a small photo when you got to drop the size of your signature and title. Always try and go for a thin nibbed pen.
HOW TO RECOVER A FAILED SIGNATURE OR TITLE ON FUJI FLEX PAPER
If you’re going to print on FujiFlex paper then this is going to be an unavoidable experience, the dreaded “I stuffed it” most of the time it is going to be because your pen didn’t sign consistently and you need to go back and repair it which can look terrible. Well given you have gotten to the point where you think you need a new reprint done, try getting some Methylated Spirits and apply some to a cotton free rag or to the white gloves your handling your prints with and gently wipe it over the text on the FujiFlex print and you will see the ink be removed and the paper untouched. Allowing you to try again.
Note this may not work every time, if you have pushed too hard into the photo, to begin with, you will see that you have scratched the surface coating off the photo, but this is a last ditched effort to fix a mistake on what could be an expensive reprint.
DIGITAL TITLES AND SIGNATURES
This is a personal dislike of mine, seeing digital titles and signatures on photos, especially when the font used for the title is a generic font (makes is 10 times worse). When you hand title and sign your photo it really adds a personal and professional touch to your photos, so if you’re handling your photos there is no reason why you can’t do this yourself. I know some photographers do it because they say they have terrible writing and I have seen some average looking handwritten titles but even the worst handwritten titles beat a digital font.
BUT… if you’re going to do a digital font for your titles take some time and pick a handwritten font so there is at least some natural looking human element to it.