March 23, 2012 by Jeffery in Projects

Being not very socially competent, I always strive to understand how people work. Photography is fantastic, because among its many applications, I use it as a tool to study people. Here, we are looking at emotions and how it comes through on our faces. Since facial expressions are tied to emotions, some expressions are simply beyond our conscious control. For example, with fake smiles, we can’t voluntarily contract certain muscles in our face (corner of the mouth and crow’s feet around the eyes). Think about the times when a person was saying one thing but their faces were saying another. While our mouth can lie, our faces can’t.

Due to life experiences and personality traits, not everybody wear the same emotion the same way. When serious person shows emotion, it may not always be obvious because their facial features don’t move much. Because of these subtle differences, I hypothesize by recording different expressions from one person and merging the results together we should be able to see an archetypal representation of that person.

(clockwise: Daniela, Patrick, Nathanael, Steph)

Daniela – Daniela is quiet, mature, reserved, guarded, though playful and sociable at times. I predicted a neutral or sad face for the merged image, here it’s more serious than sad…but not unexpected.

Patrick – Sociable, outgoing, a real people’s person, Patrick is generally positive & happy. Here the result was as I predicted, a happy & playful face.

Nathanael – From the outside Nathanael looks serious, slightly aggressive (though that may be the Muay Thai training), but he is at the same time relaxed, good-humoured and even childish. This was surprising result, no single dominant emotion emerged.

Steph – I don’t know Steph very well, but she is definitely extroverted, outgoing & energetic and the result reflects some of those traits.

Some of these people I’ve known for a while, others not so well. The results were interesting. Each person had the same unique localized facial movements (e.g. Steph widening her left eye) that occurred in different emotions.  Trying to read people accurately is a little game I play with myself, and while I’m getting better at it, I like the fact no one can make 100% accurate predictions about them. You can label a person, put people into categories, but they will always surprise you. It keeps life fun.

(click on THUMBS tab for photos)


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