Photographer Tests the Definition of Beauty by Constructing Symmetrical Faces



With Both Sides Of, New York City based photographer Alex John Beck tests our definition of beauty. Inspired by the theory that symmetrical faces are the most attractive, the artist constructs a pair of entirely symmetrical portraits drawn from a single visage, one made from the model’s lefthand side and its mirror reflection and the other from the right half. By definition, these uncanny faces each represent the height of physical perfection.

When confronted with Beck’s images, we might try to construct the actual human face, splicing the two halves together in our mind’s eye. The photographs, however, disallow us from completing this task; despite our efforts, we recognize the portraits as two separate and irreconcilable people. Over the course of human history, we have (often prejudicially) ascribed moral characteristics to facial features; plump cheeks indicate warmth and compassion, where an angular face expresses intellectual cunning. If no face can be entirely symmetrical, then do we contain within our features two distinct selves, warring with one another for recognition? Take a look, and check out Beck’s Instagram for more.









  • Thomas Graham-Wood

    Actually did the same thing a few months ago…!beauty-of-asymmetry/c169l

  • GaborBartal

    But the end result is not too professional, sorry.
    It’s one thing to be able to copy someone [anyone can do it] and another to do it right [not anyone can do it]

  • Jasmine

    To be fair on him I don’t think he copied the artist. This project is standard at the art college I went to. Me and every other person at that college did the same project on the photography course. It’s hardly an original concept that has never been thought of before.

    Needless to say he has done a very good job but I feel your being too harsh on the lad who’s probably just a student.

  • Ashlie Gregory

    All they did for their photos was go in photoshop and squish the image. It doesn’t look right. This one actually looks professionally done.

  • they could look so much better when symmetricalised(?) if the photographer knew photoshop a little better. It appears he basically just cut the photo in the center and mirrored it regardless of whether the subjects’ angles are right or not!

  • wtf did i just read

  • Guest

    I did this not too long ago for fun with my own photo, I think it’s cool how your face can look like two different people 🙂
    Not professional at ALL btw, as I said I only did this for fun

  • GaborBartal

    That’s exactly what I meant though – not that he copied this particular person.
    Yeah I was too harsh I didn’t know how else to phrase it.

  • GaborBartal

    You have read my opinion, which was simply that it didn’t look too great. Am I not allowed to express it?
    Look, another comment just above has just confirmed how standard this process is. Surely then it’s a mediocre attempt among all people who did this.
    Yeah I was harsh but half the faces don’t even look natural in their proportions (too narrow or wide); perhaps I could have explained it to make it somewhat constructive not just plain raw. My bad.

  • gregorioalvin

    Mass Effect creation faces: symmetrical

  • Vincent

    Seriously, they look fine to me. But that’s fine there’s always that one person who has to riducule just about EVERYTHING posted on the internet and what do you expect? It’s the internet right? PLUS! There are FAR worse photoshopped images and this one is not one of them.

  • Vincent

    It’s funny how some look great and others are a little… unsettling to look at… And then there’s the one that almost looks the same with both sides of his face.

  • Maha Taibi

    am i the only one around here that finds symmtrical faces aren’t beautiful?

  • Bimbo

    Rubbish, does the author have some kind of perversion against ears? Why most of the pictures have bigger/flappy ears, nothing to do with original image?

  • 3Rton

    Funny experiment get a sheet of paper and use it to only see the to left and right halves.

  • 3Rton

    To be fair his pictures illustrate it almost better than these do, though.

  • SmooK_LV

    Ok guys, I actually read a bit from the article. So on the left side we have the left side of face mirrored, while on the right side we have the right side of face mirrored, but we don’t have the originals, so we can’t find out whether the theory is wrong or right.

  • Danny Boy

    I didn’t bother reading the article, are you sure that’s right??

  • SmooK_LV

    Yes. A quote:
    “the artist constructs a pair of entirely symmetrical portraits drawn from a single visage, one made from the model’s lefthand side and its mirror reflection and the other from the right half.”

  • Danny Boy

    Wow. That’s pathetic seeing as the original image isn’t even used. I’m actually quite angry over it! 😛

  • jj

    Well.. You can’t expect everyone to swallow everything on the internet haha. And you also shouldn’t assume that just because someone disagreed on one thing means they disagree on everything else. Nothing wrong with critical/logical opinions.

  • Cross your eyes at these pics. Looks better.

  • nobodyatall

    In every single one of these, the natural picture on the left is far better than the one on the right. Not a great job.

  • Ilse

    Yeah, in some of the pics the eyes are just too close to each other, wich of course looks inharmonious, and thats the entire point (or thats what i understood), and of course he should know photoshop a little better, he is, after all, a professional photographer (just imagine, not that is the same, but a doctor who couldnt prescript you the right medicine, you wouldnt say “why do you complain? There are far worse doctors out there”)

  • Edgar P. Miller

    Yes I do.

  • Andrea Aguirre

    the angle has to be the same…

  • namvu

    I’d hate to break this to you but…there’s no natural picture here. Shocking, I know. Just take it slow. Carefully scroll up to the article and look for the part where it says “the artist constructs a pair of entirely symmetrical portraits drawn from a single visage, one made from the model’s left hand side and its mirror reflection and the other from the right half”

  • Stef Thorp

    I would have liked to see the original picture too, as people have mentioned below, but if you look at the picture, and go cross eyed and then focus your eyes while cross eyed (like you would do for a magic eye picture) then you can kind of see what the original photo looked like.

  • Jasmine

    Fair enough =)
    Text can be misconstrued.

  • Thomas

    If you are comparing with my pictures, dont all have a fight over it guys! Indeed i am a student and one day woke up wanting to try it! And i appreciate the constructive comments, maybe some of you found them harsh but that is the only way i can actually get better at what i love doing! So now i know i have to work harder on my photoshop skills (although i very rarely use it)
    So thank you everyone for your critics, it is actually very helpfull! Dont hesitate to do it on the other pictures 🙂

  • Jacob M. Shpall

    So the study is supposed to ‘overturn our conceptions of beauty’? seems like exercise is completely moot without original (asymmetrical) image. The biggest problem is the photo disparities play on how wide or close-set the eyes are which is an entirely different system to symetricallity. altogether pointless click-bait (guess it worked!)

  • Jake

    Nothing wrong with pointing out crappy Photoshop work and providing constructive criticism. They look abnormal and could have looked a lot better. The asymmetrical pictures a far more beautiful than the symmetrical ones. If the point was to prove the theory of symmetry equals beauty, it fails. It really is not a good proof of theory when the works are completed so awkwardly. Interesting test, poorly executed.

  • samantha

    photoshopped TERRIBLY but I get the message he’s conveying. Beauty is what you make it out to be, it’s not a measured by universal standard or method. Each and everyone is beautiful in their own way

  • CrankyFranky

    I started off a rant about how the right images looked fatter so would trigger distaste – then I read that the left images are the left side mirrored, and vice versa

    in which case – now I’m wondering about most of the right images appearing wider – I wonder if this is a common phenomenon – e.g. associated with more use as in right-handedness … ?

  • SeriousJoe

    These faces are all symmetrical. There is no original photograph posted…

  • Guest

    Yeah, thanks for the heads up. I didn’t read that part. But I can do without the sarcasm. Childish.

  • nobodyatall

    Yeah, thanks for the heads up. But I can do without the sarcasm. Childish.

  • Jake

    So did they take and creat a picture from each side of the face? Left joined with left and right joined with right? The narrower photos seem more natural and are the ones I would point to being more attractive then.

  • namvu

    Wrong again my friend, if I called you a bumbling idiot for not reading through the whole thing before judging it, that would be childish. Sarcasm is frankly most effective way to transfer the message across to people with an inkling of intellect

  • Parkinson Sniper

    He is right…these are poorly ps’ed. Also, having worse works doesnt mean that your worl is good :))

  • Parkinson Sniper

    He should have left the hair and clothing UN-symmetrical…wait, let me do something similar. Maybe I can be featured too LOL (just joking)

  • Cia Kay

    I think the point is supposed to be that perfectly symmetrical faces don’t look natural…

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