Photographs for your consideration.

This giraffe is human.

There has been a long-standing debate as to whether or not we should attribute human characteristics to animals. It’s called anthropomorphism. Many scientists, such as Pavlov, saw it as a lack of objectivity. Others, like Dian Fossey and Jane Goodall, attributed all sorts of emotions to their subjects. Of course, they were studying gorillas and chimpanzees, the closest living relatives to humans. Frans de Waal wrote, “To endow animals with human emotions has long been a scientific taboo. But if we do not, we risk missing something fundamental, about both animals and us.”

From an artistic viewpoint, I find it very helpful to attribute human emotions to my animal portraits. I’m in good company. Aesop did it in his fables. As did Lewis Carroll, Rudyard Kipling, C.S. Lewis, George Orwell, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Walt Disney Company.

As for the giraffe, which human emotion do you see in this portrait?



8 responses

  1. Hi Sandra, you have some great photos on your site. I think this is my favorite one. I was just writing how part of the fun of photographing is anthropomorphizing. It’s a little more inane with bugs than mammals, but just as fun and thought-provoking (I think).

    Thanks for stopping by my site! I’ll be checking in on yours.


    September 7, 2011 at 11:32 pm

  2. Great image and love the b/w. The Giraffe is one of my favorite animals. Have always felt a sort of closeness to them. Not certain why. LOL

    December 2, 2010 at 10:42 am

  3. chloe

    cutest photo!

    November 27, 2010 at 11:00 pm

  4. It looks curious, but in a slightly bored way… Great portrait!

    November 19, 2010 at 1:25 pm

  5. Perhaps…Quizzical
    Great shot!

    November 17, 2010 at 2:40 am

  6. Well humans are animals too, so I fail to see the point the scientists are making, beside being extremely arrogant. It’s a great image of the giraffe, and although I’m not sure which emotion I’d ascribe to it, I am somehow reminded of some older women I have seen….

    November 16, 2010 at 4:05 pm

  7. Ali

    Nice pose, good BW photo..

    November 16, 2010 at 2:56 pm

  8. It looks like this giraffe is trying to figure out at what it is he or she is looking.

    November 16, 2010 at 1:01 pm

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