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Archetypes in Photography

by Editor Lourens Durand


'Timeless' by Heungmu, Her

Archetypes are tools that are often used by fiction writers to add realism to their characters, by making them recognisable by their readers.

The word “archetype” comes from the Greek word “archétypon”, that means “original pattern”. Each one of us has a set of these patterns in our make-up, defining how we behave in certain circumstances.
Carl Jung, the psychologist, proposed that there are twelve archetypes reflected in human behaviour. He asserted that the root of all archetypes lies in the collective unconscious, brought about by exposure and experiences shared by cultures, religions and upbringing.

Archetypes may be used in art and photography as well.
Theoretically, one could create twelve different personality types with one model by using different poses, clothing, lighting, backdrops and props, eliciting a variety of emotions, like anger, fear, pity or love, in someone looking at the photographs.

Jung’s model for archetypes was made up of three different types:
Ego Types, Soul Types and Self Types, with each type subdivided into four.

Let’s have a look at these archetypes and try to find photos that fit them.


The Innocent just wants to be happy and find an easy way to paradise. Tends to be a dreamer He or she may come across as boring, as they always want to do the right thing.

The Regular Guy needs to belong, to connect with others through having the common touch, but may end up without his own distinctive identity.

The Hero, a good person, seeks to prove his or her worth through courageous acts.  Often struggles against evil and attempts to improve the world through displaying and exercising courage and endurance, often against the odds. Despite this, he or she may come across as being arrogant.

The Caregiver’s goal is to support and protect others through emotional nourishment, but this type of sympathy may be taken advantage of.


'Lovers' by Angéla Vicedomini

'Music of the soul' by Nataliorion



'Esther' by Carine Belzon


'At your service for decades' by Christophe Kiciak



'The hometrainer' by Cees Petter



'300th' by Enjo Mathew

'Love' by Martin Krystynek MQEP

'Journey' by Lev Tsimring


The Explorer needs to understand what his or her purpose is in life and aims for a better, more fulfilling life, without restrictions. In this process, however, he or she may become an aimless wanderer.

The Rebel is defiant and lives for revolution, wanting to overturn everything, whether it is working or not, but can become dangerous in the process.

The Creator has the desire to create something meaningful, to realise a vision and not be mediocre, but may become over-perfectionist.

The Lover yearns for intimacy, romance and love, showing passion and warmth, but may become too selfless and lose their own identity.


'cetrero' by Javier Senosiain

'Connect' by Despird Zhang



'Defiance' by Mosaab Elshamy



'misery' by Katarina Grajcarikova



'An Artist's Work Is never Done' by Alan Mahon


'Writer's block' by Adrian Donoghue


'Save the last dance for me' by Marcos Gali


The Jester is funny, light-hearted and comical, looking to have a great time and to lighten up the world, but may be perceived as being frivolous and foolish, wasting the time of others.

The Wizard’s goal is to make visions come true, to act as a catalyst and build something unique, and is linked to mystery and charm, but may become manipulative and take unnecessary risks.

The Sage is normally seen as an expert, wise, deep, analytical, seeking out knowledge in an attempt to discover the truth, but may over-study situations and fail to act timeously.

The Ruler loves to exercise power and control, creating order out of chaos, but may become too controlling, unable to delegate.


'President' by Martin Lundström


'Joker Family' by Hamze Dashtrazmi

'Insanitea' by Christophe Kiciak


'Miksha' by Rakesh J.V



'Between shadow and light' by Roza Sampolinska



'The Thinker' by Derek Galon


'Bossman' by Bas Pisa

'Between The Worlds' by Hans Bauer


Of course, the reception of a photograph or artwork depends on the viewer and his own particular archetype, with the result that any picture may elicit many different reactions from viewers.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder….


Great article! And wonderful photo selection that illustrates the archetypes very vividly. I think the article should be used for psychology seminars if students are to understand the archetypes according to C.G. Jung. Congratulations!
Thank you for your positive comments, Knut.
Beautiful and very divers selection of image Lourens!
Thanks, Wicher. Much appreciated.
Great article and very effective images...
Thank you.
Nice article and selections
Thank you Adrian.
Beauty in the eye of the beholder ... What is the deep meaning in this phrase ! It speaks of the subjectivity of perception. What seems beautiful to an African, then to a European it may seem tasteless or vice versa, then that for a housewife a dirty stain, then for a microbiologist a wonderful sample of fungus or mold. one looking into a puddle sees dirt, and the other sees stars reflected in a puddle. Stars. I wish everyone to see the stars !!! Thanks Lourens! Thanks Yvette
Thank you for your comments, Vladimir
Clever, interesting and well written article, dear Lourens. Thanks a lot... and congratulations to all the authors of the selected images to document it. Cheers, Yvette
Thank you, Yvette.
Splendid article Laurens, superb images! Congratulations Laurens, congratulations Yvette!
Thanks for your appreciation, dear Alessandro!
Thank you Alessandro