At first glance, photographer Dylan Hamm has simply snapped two headshots of a single person. These portraits however, have a secret element to them: in one of the images, the subject is naked. This fact is the basis for Hamm's series Naked Faces, which was inspired by a question he’s mulled over for years. “In short,” he writes, “what level of nonverbal facial expressions do we show without being conscious of them?” Through over 40 sets of portraits, he sought to prove the notion that “people show more on their face than they are aware.”
Although we can’t see the subjects’ nude bodies, we do notice a shift in facial appearance from one photo to the other. These vary in their intensity—some people barely raise an eyebrow while others look more relaxed and even have a smirk on their face. “Though the approach and reaction to the act of getting naked varied from laughing, yelling and making jokes that reaction rarely linked to the results captured,” Hamm explained. The photographed micro expressions instead offer a fleeting glimpse into who these people really are, instead of their actions off-camera.
Naked Faces did not bring Hamm any closer to answering his original question—quite the opposite, actually. “Rather, it has become an investigation that is ongoing. It has raised questions about gender stereotypes, the subconscious, and the way we change imperceptibly to ourselves and perceptibly to others.”
Photographer Dylan Hamm takes portrait photos of people before and after they undress for a series entitled Naked Faces.
Do you notice the difference in their facial expressions?