Not My Best Side

symmetrical faces, asymmetrical face, camera disorder,
Is your face symmetrical? (Image: Julian Wolkenstein)

No one, ever, has taken a good picture of me. My daughter claims that I have some kind of disorder. It’s true. When a camera swivels in my direction I start twisting my face around in a clownish attempt to look presentable. She does a pretty good imitation of my so-called camera disorder. It consists of flared nostrils, raised eyebrows, lopsided smile, and what she calls “crazy eyes.” I guess that presentable thing isn’t working.

Maybe all this time I’ve been trying to even out what’s probably an asymmetrical face. Because according to researchers who spend their time studying such things, the symmetrical faces have it made.

Studies indicate that facial symmetry is an important component of attractiveness to both genders   It’s also assumed to be an indicator of health.

And those who are blessed with greater facial symmetry are more likely to hang on to their mental faculties as they age. At least for men.

In college I remember some pseudo-scientific project which claimed to find hidden aspects of political leaders’ personalities. The method involved flipping one side of a facial portrait over as a mirror image, making full portraits from the left side as well as the right side. I’ll admit there were major differences. Some of the politicians were downright two-faced. Especially Nixon.

Image credit:

Now it’s easy to check out our own symmetry by making these mirror image photos of our right and left “faces.”

Australian photographer Julian Wolkenstein completed a series of such portraits last year and as an ongoing project, provides instructions and a gallery for pictures of your left and right face portraits.

UK blogger Andy Shelly offers a similar plugin for GIMP.

Or try PicHacks.

Just remember, don’t take the results too seriously. You don’t want to develop my camera disorder.

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5 thoughts on “Not My Best Side

  1. Anybody else out there who doesn’t photograph well? I’m wondering chicken and egg. Are we self-conscious first or do bad photos make us so self-conscious that we end up looking worse in photos?

  2. I also have a VERY asymmetric face, and for some reason I only see it in photographs. Not in the mirror. One eye squints more than the other, I have a funny dimple on one side only, and my smile is crooked: one of my front two teeth is bigger then the other.

    This all seems emphasized when I’m photographed on purpose, but in candids I don’t notice as much.

    I’ve never been too happy with my face in pictures — which is why I’m a geek scientist and not a model, lol!

  3. I’m also part of the facial asymmetry club…

    There have been studies done on the autoimmune disorder my son has that show that there is a facial gestalt that goes along with his syndrome.

    That was a something to work through because he looks just like me.

  4. @Patricia. I think you’ve hit on something with the comparison between candid and staged photos, there is a difference. In my case that difference is slight. I still have a lopsided smile but I’m more relaxed. I wish I hadn’t tossed out all the bizarre photos taken of me over the years. I’m now confident enough (okay past caring) that I’d get a good laugh out of them.

    @ Andrea. Every day I encounter something that fascinates me so much that I’d love to pursue a PhD in it. Your comment takes me there. We finally finished a sad but interesting process of clearing out everything my parents owned including a wealth of old photos. Because my mother was interested in such things, she knew what ills plagued these long gone relatives and what maladies claimed their lives. I actually noticed facial and body type similarities between relatives who suffered and died from the same things across the generations. Hmm.

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