For example in a photo there is a river. Can we title it "River" and not "The River"? Or there are some women who are sitting and standing on the ground. Can we title the photo "Sitting & Standing Women" or "The Sitting & Standing Women"?

And what about capitalizing all words?

In my native language there is no The and capitalizing.


You can give a photograph whatever title you want. Nobody would think twice about a photograph with or without the word "the" in the beginning.

As far as capitalization goes, the standard would be to capitalize the first letter of all words except for conjunctions, articles, and prepositions. If the first word of the title is a conjuction, article, or preposition, then that word should be capitalized. For example, "The Three Women and a Large Cat"

On the other hand, you are the one making the title, and you could theoretically deviate from the capitalization rules if you have some stylistic reason to do so. I would not recommend doing so without some particular reason, though.

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    This is a good answer, but I think it's worth noting that style guides differ a little on exactly how to capitalize a title, so I'd say there's more than one valid style. – snailplane May 28 '13 at 20:03
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    There are always stylistic variations. The rule as Daniel has stated it is the conventional one, and is what most people expect and are used to. (Well, I think most would say "short preposition", like "of" or "to". Longer prepositions, like "through" and "before", are usually capitalized.) If you have a reason to deviate, that's fine, but bear in mind that you will be calling attention to your variation. – Jay May 28 '13 at 20:19
  • (I decided to rephrase this.) My point is that there is no single convention. Most people probably don't pay close enough attention to the details to notice this fact, however, so it's probably not terribly important. This is still a good answer. – snailplane May 29 '13 at 2:32
  • The habit of capitalising all the initial letters in a title (whether for a photo or for a newspaper headline) is known as 'Title Case' and is the norm in the US. Elsewhere, most people prefer to treat the sentence as a normal one and capitalise only the first letter. This is known as 'sentence case'. Personally I loathe the ugliness and illogicality of Title Case, but I suppose personal preference has no place here :-) – toandfro Apr 9 '14 at 4:03

Photo captions, and titles in general, are not normally expected to be complete sentences. Full grammar rules do not apply.

In general, I'd say you only need a "the" at the start of a photo caption if you are trying to clarify or emphasize that this is a particular instance of the thing or the only one of the thing. But the difference would be subtle.

In the examples you give, captioning it "The River" would imply that it is some river that you have just been talking about, or that this is the greatest or most important river in the world. Like an Egyptian might label a picture of the Nile, "The River", but an American would probably not, at least not without some explanation. If I was putting a caption on a photo that was just some random, "typical" river, like from a collection of pictures of generic geographical features, I would likely label it just "River". If it mattered what river it was, like I was labeling pictures of places where events that I am describing occurred, I would give additional information, like "Mississippi River" or "River Behind My House" or whatever.

Likewise, a caption of "Sitting and Standing Women" would be appropriate on a picture which is intended to be artistic. Umm, "The Sitting and Standing Women" would be unlikely, but possible if you are contrasting it with some other group. Like picture number 1, "The Sitting and Standing Women"; picture number 2, "The Reclining Women"; picture number 3, "The Running Women".


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