Last week I asked for suggestions for a caption to accompany a recent photograph I’d taken of two naked men staring across the Bogan River in Outback Australia. I was overwhelmed at the response, and have finally had a chance to read and enjoy the hundreds of suggestions. I have to mention some of my favourites.
There were many captions that involved the hatted man asking a question of, or pointing something out to, the other man, who has apparently turned around to look across the river in reaction.
Most were about them being discovered naked, or doing something sexual, along the lines of “Do you think they saw us?”, but more elaborate or graphic! I liked Eric Scot’s“Are they coming this way?” and Kire Trenkosky’s“Looks like the Bogans are coming.”
There were some good Australian folklore and wildlife references: Bob Sullivan’s ‘Duelling banjos’, Andrew Bagala’s 'Once two jolly swagmen camped by a billabong', Doug Henry’s ‘Bill-a-blokes by the billabong’, Matt Tunguy-Desmarais’ 'Wildly wattle wonderers', and Heath Sangster’s ‘Drovers break’. John Innes quoted the second verse of Banjo Patterson’s poem ‘Clancy Of The Overflow’.
Many involved a crocodile allusion or scare, such as Barry Van Den Berg’s “Look at the crocs. Now we can't swim back”, and Leo Harley’s “Okay, so our clothes are just over there where that croc is. How are we going to do this?”
There were more general literary or film references: ‘Deliverance’, and pigs squealing generally, got a few mentions, as did Hemmingway, and The Bible, (Exodus?), in Rich Dock’s “So that's the apple tree we are supposed to stay away from”.
The bucolic nature of the river setting won poetic appreciation in Melanie Hanson’s and Vincent Graves’ variations on ‘Lazy river days’, Justin Easton’s ‘Across the river and into the trees', Lawrence Olsen’s‘Afternoon on the river’, and Maximus Alegria’s ‘Mysteries of the murky waters have always caught the eye of Man.’
Charles Smith brilliantly surreally incorporated the fact that the actual photo itself was cropped for social media, into the conversation taking place in the photo, “What was that mate? “The censor, faster than the speed of light.”!
I was reminded what it’s like to judge something as ephemeral and subjective as art and creative writing, and somehow reduce a myriad of valid approaches to a numerical ranking or score. In the end it was the simple yet effective captions that I responded to on a number of levels, and I have to give honourable mentions to Richard Hart for 'Don't worry mate I've got your back', Brian Finstad’s ‘Crossing over’, Henk Benson’s 'The way back' and David Bartley’s ‘Distraction’, and finally award the book to Andre Schouten for ‘Looking’!