by Inigo del Castillo in New Photography on Wednesday 19 March 2014

New York-based photographer Alex John Beck explores the concept of a good and bad side in portraits through his series ‘Both Sides Of’. In the series, he mirrors the left and right sides of a person’s face, creating two portraits with diminutive differences. In this exclusive interview, Beck talks about the inspiration for the series and the reactions of his subjects (including himself) when they first saw the mirrored portraits. [Read our original post about this photo series here]

What was the inspiration for the series, ‘Both Sides Of’?
I wanted to find a different way of shooting a transformative portrait. Rather than trying to capture an emotion, I tried to distill the various opposing emotions hidden within a face at rest.

What’s the message you’re trying to communicate by showing the two sides of a person’s face?
There’s no message, really, I think it’s more of a curiosity: revealing hidden characters.

Have you tried applying the same mirror effect on your own self portrait? If yes, what was your initial reaction upon seeing it?
Of course. I hated it. But as a photographer I’m well aware of the power of the camera, and so prefer to point it elsewhere.

What was the reaction of your subjects when they first laid their eyes on their left and right faces? Any memorable reactions?
Every reaction was somewhat memorable, since the subjects were often surprised to see how much their face differed. What started as surprise at the symmetry or a-symmetry of their faces, became surprise at the different facial expressions.

How does knowledge of this facial symmetry affect your work as a photographer?
It affects it only to the extent that people think they have a ‘good’ side and a ‘bad’ side. When really the sides are not better or worse, just different.