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Photographing the Seven Deadly Sins

Updated on May 8, 2015

Photography & The Seven Deadly Sins: Wrath

Model: Jennifer Garcia
Model: Jennifer Garcia | Source

"The seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins, is a classification of vices (part of Christian ethics) that has been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct Christians concerning fallen humanity's tendency to sin. In the currently recognized version, the sins are usually given as wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.

The Catholic Church divides sin into two categories: venial sins, in which guilt is relatively minor, and the more severe mortal sins. Theologically, a mortal or deadly sin is believed to destroy the life of grace and charity within a person and thus creates the threat of eternal damnation. "Mortal sin, by attacking the vital principle within us – that is, charity – necessitates a new initiative of God's mercy and a conversion of heart which is normally accomplished [for Catholics] within the setting of the sacrament of reconciliation."

According to Catholic moral thought, the seven deadly sins are not discrete from other sins, but are instead the origin ("capital" comes from the Latin caput, head) of the others. "Deadly sins" can be either venial or mortal, depending on the situation, but "are called 'capital' because they engender other sins, other vices" Wikipedia


Edited to comply with TOS. You may see the original by following link CC BY 2.0)
Edited to comply with TOS. You may see the original by following link CC BY 2.0) | Source

Want to do a photographic project that has some meaning and carries some "hump" with it? Then how about involving yourself with photographing the Seven Deadly Sins.

Although you may think that this project will be a difficult one to complete, you will be surprised as how simple some of the "sins" can be represented in your photographs. Granted not all of these 7 are easily transferred into photographs, but the majority are.

First thing to doe before even considering such an endeavor is to read about the sins and seek samples of artistic representations for each.

Then dwell on the matter for a while and come up with creative ways that you can employ to make your images fit the theme properly and realistically.

You do not need to worry about the execution just yet, nor do you have to fret about the many props that you may think you will need. As I said before, some are rather simple.

However,it would be helpful if you counted with a digital editing program like Photoshop to make some minor adjustment if the need should arise, especially if a digital background would help the shoot.

Another good technique is to ask friends and relatives as to how they would envision each sin and how they would show it.

This is a good starting point since it exposes you to the way people view and think of these sins.

Not to be overlooked is to read Dante's Inferno, an see how the author chose to represent each sin or as they are called in the work, Circles.

If you should wish to read a little more in depth information about each sin, associated colors, punishments, even associated animals for each, then perhaps thisLINK may prove to be helpful.


CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

Gluttony & Greed

(CC BY 2.0
(CC BY 2.0 | Source
CC BY-ND 2.0
CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source

After you have done your research and chosen one or more sins. then proceed to formulate the bets way to approach the shoot.

The hard part for the majority of these sins is how to translate a photograph into a message that your audience will readily comprehend to be one of the 7 deadly Sins.

This is not as easy as it sounds with perhaps Gluttony being the exception. You do not have to go overboard with your setup. Often simplicity is best.

For example the image of the model with her hands up in the air that features other hands that are reaching out to her is easily understood to be a representation of pride, perhaps even lust.

Good places to conduct research are art works based on the Sins, Dante's work, the Bible and other religious works.

Other sources of inspirations are some television shows and movies, but use them as an idea source instead of a more in depth source. A model shoot by the show "America's Next Top Model" featured these Sins in one of their shows. Although some of the images are representational others lacked a strong connection to the individual sin and were it not for the labeling of the images with the Sin's name, they may have been taken for something other that what the theme intended.

Does this sound like something you would want to do?

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Use the gear that you would use for a portrait unless doing the shoot outside. There are some themes that will benefit from being a bit dark in some spots as this adds an air of mystery and a photo snoot helps with this.

However the essence and overall theme of the photograph must still be clear and visible enough to allow your audience to make the determination and come to the realization that they are looking at one of the Deadly Sins.

These images are suitable to used by many photography related publications, some art galleries, posters and perhaps some greeting cards producers. As an art form they are viable for many projects, as well as for religious educational purposes.

Good taste, sharp technical elements,attention to detail and creativity are keys that will serve to make your images worthy and publishable.


public domain
public domain | Source
CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source


CC BY-ND 3.0
CC BY-ND 3.0 | Source

Keep in mind also that traditionally each sin is associated with a specific color and it would be appropriate to incorporate them into the images. Therefore each Sins should feature its own color but this is not a must necessity.

However if you can incorporate each sins's color to the scene in some way they are : Light blue for Sloth, dark/blood red for Wrath, green for Envy, yellow for Greed/Avarice, blue or purple for Pride/Vanity, bright red for Lust, and pink or orange for Gluttony. These color combinations are not set in stone but rather used as a guide and their use is a modern innovation created by artists as this one among many color interpretations shows us

" There are seven colors that represent the Seven Deadly Sins. The color green is for envy. The color violet is for pride. The color red is for wrath. The color light blue is for sloth. The color blue is for lust. The color yellow is for greed. The color orange is for gluttony."

Use of color is the best choice as a black and white or monochromatic medium may hide the perceived message and your audience will probably have a much harder time figuring out one sin from the other unless off course your images feature clear cut definitive props.


CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source
Sloth | Source

© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez


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