Okay, so we’ve had posts about the magic of 3 and the power of 2, so now I feel I must advocate for 1 (or maybe just ramble about number symbolism).
Sure I’ve used various numbers of toys and figures in my photos, but I have a soft spot for one. That being said, I do tend to create solemn photos and 1 then comes to represent either lonliness, or a solitary journey. This doesn’t mean, in the whole scheme of things that the figure is in life alone, but for this moment, when we see inside their head, they’re on a philosophical path that they must travel alone.
So then would 1 figure be solitude, 2 relationships, and 3 balance? Or at least this is my interpretation, but number symbolism in art is a thing – although not the easiest to research. Here’s what I’ve found so far for numbers 1 – 13. Check out the links below for further information on this sometimes odd list.
- unity, self, God, the universe
- opposites, duality
- mystical, spiritual, the family unit, beginning, middle & end, the Holy Trinity
- earth & body – the four elements, cardinal directions, yearly seasons, the four humors
- magic, human life
- perfection, days of creation
- astrology, virtue & vices, rest, music, luck
- resurrection of Christ, paradise
- pain, sadness
- completeness, finality
- negativity, monsters
- the zodiac
- bad luck
While I love to sometimes consider color symbolism in my photos, I only very occasionally play with numbers. It’s interesting to see how numbers have been used historically, and I wonder how much this effects how people view the number of items in my photos and others.
One of these days, maybe I’ll create a 13 part series with items that represent each of the things in the list above…or maybe I’ll just stick to my beloved ‘1.’
What number is your favorite to use in your work? And what do you feel that number represents?
Great post! That was a very interesting list you complied about the symbolism of each number. I didn’t realize that each number had so many interpretations. Although I love to photograph couples and friends, I also enjoy using just one subject because I like to take minifig “portraits”. They don’t really have any deep meaning or symbolism but I find them enjoyable and relaxing. Your photos of “One” are so dramatic and artistic. I especially enjoy the black and white shot and the way the light hits the trees. Beautiful shots!
Thank you so so much. I’m sorry for this late reply! I totally missed these comments.
Your photos of couples and 2s represent relationships better than I ever could. I’m glad you enjoy making them!
Jennifer, I never really thought about numbers before reading your post. “One” seems to invite concentration, focus. And if the character interacts, he or she interacts with the things, the world around. In fact, some of your pictures seem to show how frightening the material world can be… Which is an aspect I very much appreciate. Cheers. T.
Wow thank you so so much.
I love this post very much, Jennifer! I agree with the aspects of “One” that you suggested in the article.
It’s great you reveal the psychological side of toy photography through the people’s perception of numbers and images. Thank you!
I really appreciate that. Thank you!
Jennifer, what a great post! You’re so right about the number one and the journey image. Your photos really bring that concept into focus. I love the list you found. Definitely a lot of room to play there. Fabulous work as always!
Thank you so so much, Shelly!