creativity exercise: humanizing a non-human subject or object

Picking up your camera, shooting, and challenging yourself is the best way to improve your photography.  The Creativity Exercises within the Clickin Moms photography forum are a great source for finding new ways to challenge yourself.  On the first Monday of every month the wonderful Sarah Wilkerson posts a new tutorial and challenges our members to shoot with the exercise in mind.  While the exercises are ongoing, at the end of each month we choose a few images as the ‘Editors’ Choice’ and share them here with you on the blog.  How fun is that?!  Today we are sharing August’s exercise with you below!

creativity exercise | humanizing a non-human subject or object

creativity exercise: humanizing a non human subject or object photo
*image copyright Allison Jacobs

Have you ever seen a tenacious leaf? It’s the last one so stubbornly hanging onto a tree branch as the winter wind whistles in. What about raindrops dancing in already formed puddles on the sidewalk or the lonely teddy bear who has for two weeks been left untouched under your seven year old’s bed? Ever see a face formed in the bark of a gnarled old tree or the gentle rays of sunlight offering hope in a bleak scene?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary,“Anthropomorphism” is the “attribution of human motivation, characteristics, or behavior to inanimate objects, animals, or natural phenomena.”

Anthropomorphism is commonly seen in art, literature, and film – Orwell’s Animal Farm; the common personification of Death, Mother Nature, Father Time; The Brave Little Toaster; the “Dogs Playing Poker” series of paintings; The Velveteen Rabbit; Thomas the Train; Joos de Momper’s “Anthropomorphic Landscape”; and so on.

How is this relevant to photography? Anthropomorphism need not be as obvious or literal as the examples above. By shooting inanimate objects or events as if they have a story to tell, an emotion to convey, or otherwise project some human qualities, we create interest and empathy for the viewer – our audience is likely to connect with the image. Focus on whether you can suggest that your non-human subject has feelings (melancholy, joyful, angry, lonely, carefree, tired, stubborn, belligerent, etc), action/intent (bringing hope, attempting to comfort, threatening to injure, offering shelter, embracing, guiding, guarding, blocking, etc), or even physical human characteristics (a face, legs, arms, etc). If it helps, go ahead and title your image as well; in fact, sometimes it helps me to have a particular title in my head to really define my goals/vision when shooting.

editors’ choice

creativity exercise: humanizing a non human subject or object photo

Congratulations to the ladies below whose photographs were selected as this month’s Editors’ Choices!

Lisa Kitto:

creativity exercise: humanizing a non human subject or object photo

Christina Klahn:

creativity exercise: humanizing a non human subject or object photo

Kerry Varnum:

creativity exercise: humanizing a non human subject or object photo

Megan Dill:

creativity exercise: humanizing a non human subject or object photo

Michelle Barnes:

creativity exercise: humanizing a non human subject or object photo

JoAnna Reynolds:

creativity exercise: humanizing a non human subject or object photo

Thank you to everyone who participated in the exercise!  We love seeing all the beautiful imagery!

Do you want to join in on this Creativity Exercise?  You can still participate in this Humanizing a Non-Human Subject or Object challenge by either visiting the forum here or sharing with us in the comments below.  We’d love to see your work!

Sign up for a 30 day FREE trial membership!

creativity exercise: humanizing a non human subject or object photo

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16 Responses to “creativity exercise: humanizing a non-human subject or object”

  1. Sep 06 2012 at 11:39 am #

    I love seeing these kind of challenges on ClickinMoms. I think a lot of times, the non-traditional ClickinMoms set gets lost in the crowd. *This* is the type of photography that resonates with me, the kind of photography that I strive to create.

  2. Mary
    Sep 06 2012 at 11:46 am #

    I love these! Michelle's image with the toothbrushes….FANTASTIC!!!

  3. Sep 06 2012 at 11:48 am #

    I love these all! I thought about this challenge for the whole month of August. It was great to seek out these subjects in my world. Thanks for a fabulous challenge CM. I am honored to see on of my images chosen to be here too. <3

  4. Sep 06 2012 at 11:52 am #

    Loved this challenge, and am honored to see one of my images here :) I’m constantly amazed by the ladies on CM!

  5. Sep 06 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    Wonderful challenge. I loved each of these!!

  6. Sep 06 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    what a creative set! i'm always inspired by the assignments that come from the monthly exercises posted on the board!

  7. Lisa Kitto
    Sep 06 2012 at 4:23 pm #

    There were so many creative images this month, I loved seeing all of them! I am so honored to see my image here – thank you! :)

  8. andyandmolly
    Sep 06 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    Hi I love the thought of this monthly challenge. I am a new CM member so can someone point me to where I can find Sarah's monthly challenge posts? Thanks heaps

  9. andyandmolly
    Sep 06 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    Don't worry, found it!

  10. kerry
    Sep 06 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    I feel so honored to have my picture featured! Thanks so much!!

  11. celestejones
    Sep 20 2012 at 3:57 pm #

    great job ladies.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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