A Portrait Project Showing Subjects with Two Perfectly Symmetrical Faces

Symmetrical Portraits is a well-known and oft-imitated series of photos by photographer Julian Wolkenstein, shot back in 2010. After picking a number of subjects based on their facial features, he photographed them staring blankly straight-on into the camera. He then split the faces down the middle in order to obtain two separate “portraits” showing what the subject would look like if they had a perfectly symmetrical face.

Wolkenstein writes,

There is a myth, some say a science, suggesting people who have more symmetrical faces are considered more “ attractive “.

If you are made symmetrical, do you consider yourself more beautiful, less so, or is it just weird? Or is it you at all? Do you have a best side? What is to be said of left and right brain dominance?

Science has found that the left side of people’s faces are generally more aesthetically pleasing. While it’s unclear which side of the face was mirrored for each of these portraits, we’re guessing the left photo is of the left side (they seemed to have turned out less “freaky”).

Wolkenstein has also launched a follow-up project that invites the general public to mirror their own faces. It’s an online gallery and free mobile app called Echoism. Use your phone or your webcam to snap a portrait, and the project creates one of these mirror-face diptychs and shares it with the world.

Symmetrical Portraits by Julian Wolkenstein (via Photojojo)

Image credits: Photographs by Julian Wolkenstein and used with permission

  • Troy Robinson

    Why are some of the moles and tattoos different?

  • Troy Robinson

    why are some of the moles and tattoos different?

  • Cheekius Geekus

    Look at the chin/nose shadows and you’ll see that the lighting (sadly) was not symmetrical (therefore some of the “differences” you see are due to a doubling of the lighting.) This test would have been more accurate if butterfly lighting was used on all subjects. Then the lighting effect would be apples to apples and not apples to oranges.

  • Troy Robinson

    I see the lighting now. thanks, that makes sense. Still not sure whats up with completely different tats on the neck…

  • Troy Robinson

    Unless one side is both right halves and one side is both left halves.

  • marctaro

    Some of these are not mirrored perfectly, so they look alien. The ones that are more accurate look better – so its a test of photoshop skill more than anything else.

  • Christine Schwader

    Agree. Shadows are what give us our features. Asymmetrical shadows mean asymmetrical features no matter the model.

  • Anatole

    Once I’ve made it with myself. The result is very interesting and a bit disturbing.
    Looking to portraits of people I don’t know does not have the same effect…

  • Merv

    because the mole for example, is on one side of the body. The side with gets copied to the other side, making 2 in one picture. In the side without there is nothing to copy.

    The guy with tattoos on his neck obviously has slightly different ones on either side, so you end up with 2 sets of different tattoos.

  • Bryan

    They are all mirrors of each side of the face, no regular shots for comparison. You can tell by the catchlights in their eyes, shadows and hair blending

  • quickpick

    the originals would have been nice add to the series for the comparison.. :)

  • vonrock

    You’ve been able to do this with mac’s photo booth for 7 yrs.

  • En Tao Ko

    I believe they are all mirrored images… one i based on left side of the face, the other is based on right side of the face.

  • Kaitlin Bledsoe

    Idk…to me, some look better on the left; and some look better on the right.

    For example-

    Photo 1- both look freaky
    Photo 2- the right looks more pleasing
    Photo 3- the right
    Photo 4- the left
    Photo 5- the right
    Photo 6- the right
    Photo 7- the left
    Photo 8- both
    Photo 9- the left
    Photo 10- the left is *slightly* less freaky….but both are up there


  • Crystal

    Very easy to do it in photoshop. Just copy half face, flip it, match it. What’s special about this photograph project? Nothing at all.

  • Hans Andersson

    wow, i did this in the 90´s. And it got boring then and guess what? its still boring…

  • Bobby Fernandez

    The line of symmetry is not consistent and makes for some of the more comical images. Look at the notch formed by the two collar bones meeting in the chest.

  • Kenyatta Abasi

    Why are her nipples so high? 7th photo.

  • homopunk84 .

    because you dont understand what a mirror does.

  • DT

    It’s a cool project, but pretty sloppy. The artist should have at least taken care to make sure the lighting and hair were appropriate for such a project, especially since it is so done, it’s not like he came up with this new idea… In some of the pics, the hair is so weird it kind of alters the shape of the face, seriously, someone should just write an article about what a crappy job the artist did on an already exhausted idea.

  • AndroidShiz

    The only way to see your doppelganger living inside you.

  • Lainy

    I’d be interested in seeing the original photos too.