IndividUography: Imagine Yourself as an Animal

If you could describe yourself as any animal, what would it be and why? Let's look at some photography that gets to the qualities of different animal essences.

July 23, 2021

Over thousands of years, humanity has viewed animals as having certain qualities. Native and indigenous cultures have long connected with the spirit of different animals and have worked with animal totems as a way of embodying those energies.

Many of these associations are simply made through observation. There is a reason for the saying, "Sly as a fox" because foxes are sneaky and clever in the way they find their prey. Just ask a farmer who is trying to protect the chickens from the local fox.

Within ourselves, we also have many different qualities that we embody.

Sometimes certain qualities come out at different times in our lives, and some of these qualities seem to be our natural state of being.

For example, if you have good powers of observation, you could be considered eagle eyed.

Your challenge is to think about some quality or aspect of yourself, and then consider an animal that embodies that quality.

Once you have that in mind, go create a photo of that animal. If it is not an animal that is native to where you live, you might try going to a zoo to photograph that animal.

To give you some ideas, we are going to look at some photos of animals and think about their qualities. As you read through, consider if you have some of those aspects in yourself.


If you are considering animals that are near where you live, you can start with pets.

Dogs have qualities of loyalty, love, faithfulness, and even fun silly energy. Keep in mind that the photo you choose to create can also reflect the quality you are trying to portray.

In these photos below, the one on the left is more representative of loyalty and the one on the right represents being carefree and chilled out.


It is no secret that cats have a completely different energy than dogs. Qualities of cats are independence, aloofness, curiosity, and intuitive.

What qualities do these cat photos represent to you? Do you have any cat like qualities that you could photograph?


Horses are have been viewed as loyal companions over the centuries. The ancient Greeks and Romans revered horses as a symbol of status, honor, and strength in battle. Stallions (male horses) are often powerful confident creatures.


Bears are often seen as strong, powerful and courageous. If you have ever seen a mama bear with her cubs, you can appreciate how bears are also seen as fierce protectors and a strong feminine symbol as well.


When thinking about animals, don't forget to delve into the world of insects and bugs. Ladybugs (or ladybird beetles or more officially Coccinellidae) are fairly common around the world.

Ladybugs eat smaller bugs and pests that destroy crops and so many cultures throughout history have positive mythology around the ladybug.


Butterflies are the perfect symbol for personal transformation based on their life cycle from the lowly ground crawling caterpillar to the beautiful butterfly who travels thousands of miles in her path of migration.

When we wish to make positive change in our lives we can connect with the energy of the butterfly.


Frogs represent flexibility and adaptability as they live life in water and on land. In fairy tales, the princess kisses the lonely frog, transforming it into a handsome prince. This is another story of positive transformation associated with frogs.

Essence of Photography is a series of tips, tutorials, and visual inspiration on a variety of photography skills and techniques.

You can practice these skills and more by purchasing a deck of Photo Cards from Zoom In Reach Out, a non-profit with a mission of teaching to see the world from a different perspective.

All photos in this article were posted to the Aminus3 Photography Community and are copyrighted by their respective photographers.

Click on any photo to see a larger version or to leave a comment for the photographer.

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TOPICS: essence of photography individuography

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