Friday, May 21, 2010

flipping a portrait : an absolute no-no

i was recently on a client’s server looking for employee images to use in a corporate piece, and while i browsed through the long lists of portraits from various offices, i noticed several had an annotation "flipped" in the title. i opened them up just to make sure i was indeed looking at the worst mistake a designer can possibly make — okay, one of the worst — flipping a portrait.

i always assumed this is the sort of thing everyone learns in life, if not for sure in our design education, however it is obvious that we do not all travel the same road in that respect.

so for those who might have missed that boat, here it is: you should never, ever, ever — not under any circumstances — flip someone’s portrait. no one, not even the most beautiful people in the world, has a perfectly symmetrical face. traits that make up a person’s unique look are often those little imperfections on one side of our face, the way we part our hair, have a beauty mark, a broken nose maybe or a crooked smile (such as i have). those things cannot ever be flipped. and believe me, people will notice when you do, not the least of which being the actual person in the photo. to put it simply: it is terribly disrespectful to do so.

here are some examples of the obvious. can you tell which is the right one?

focus on one picture and then on the other; it will be easier to see the distinctions.

i picked celebrities because we all know them. try flipping one of your own pictures and then show it to the people you know — most likely, at the very least, they’ll say you look different. btw, the correct images are on the left side.

and if you are wondering, yes, this rule also applies to all pictures of any kind. here however i will add with great caution, there might be some exceptions that can be made in very rare and special circumstances, and only when the subject itself will allow, such as a flower for example. the bottom line, and the rule of thumb: never flip a picture.