It’s no secret that we’d all like to change at least one thing about our appearance. No matter how much we might accept ourselves, flaws and all, there is probably something that we wish we could “correct.” Photographer Scott Chasserot is making this wish come to life in his project called Original Ideal. Combining portrait photography with neuroscience, the endeavor “isolates the subjects’ ideal self-image” by analyzing their brain waves.
Chasserot begins his sessions with a volunteer subject by photographing them in a completely natural appearance. Each individual stares at the camera with a neutral face that’s unadorned with makeup or jewelry. With that shot complete, Chasserot creates many altered versions of their face based on “scientifically established canons of beauty.” This includes making faces symmetrical, eyes closer together, and forehead adjustments. The results look similar to his subjects but have striking differences that ultimately transform them into a totally new person.
After Chasserot’s editing is complete, he presents the portraits to the subjects while they are wearing EEG headsets that measure their brains. The photo that they have the most “positive neural reactions” towards is then considered their ideal self-image. In taking this extra step for his project, Chasserot is trying to determine “what we find instinctively beautiful in the human face and how [that] translates to self-image.” While different for everyone, the societal standards of an eye-pleasing appearance remain generally the same for all of his participants, down to the smaller noses and brighter eyes.