Some Thoughts About Photography Appearance Perception

    Years ago, I read about this topic in the book - On Photography (Susan Sontag, 1977). I interpreted the concept for my students, by describing a typical response of a person viewing his/her photographs: "Why do I look so strange?" That's because there are 2 versions of photographic reality applied to portraiture, for a simple reason not easily realized.
     Our acceptance of our personal appearance is based on what we see in a mirror. That mirror image is reversed from how others (and a camera) see us. In my self-portrait below, you can see my view in the mirror, and your view of me, each somewhat different from the other. Depending on hair styles and other physical features, these differences could be more significant, causing a subject to react: "I don't look like that!"
     To further illustrate this non-symmetrical concept, I experimented by taking half of each mirror and straight-on image, and joining those similar halves. It produced 2 distinctly different visual personalities of myself. Move the mouse over the image below to see the changes, then move the mouse away to revert to the normal views. Feel free to show this to your photo subjects to help explain their appearance perceptions.

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