“Shoot me on my left, it’s my better side.”

How many times have we heard clients say something along the lines of the phrase above? Most people have a preference on which side they look better when photographed because of how they perceive their facial features and lack of symmetry.

Facial symmetry is scientifically proven to be a characteristic of a more attractive face, which makes logical sense considering that plastic surgeons worldwide are thriving due to the gripes of humans wanting to alter their asymmetrical features.

So how do you figure out your client’s best side without out-right insulting them or letting them know you are testing for symmetry?

head turn test

“I want your chin to follow my finger.”
You’ve seen many headshot photographers lift their finger and direct their client’s head to turn to see which side is more symmetrical, but what exactly are they looking for?


It is pretty difficult to find perfectly symmetrical facial features, especially with average human beings that we shoot on a daily basis, but by testing each side we are looking for which side best showcases the asymmetrical features.

If you see these two photos which side would you pick for the client to continue shooting on? The right side makes his nose and jaw appear larger and unstructured, while the left provides clear definition for both facial features. There is a slight asymmetry in the eyes on the right, while the eyes on the left appear to be the same shape.  Use this test to determine which side you believe photographs better and then confirm with your client to ensure that they agree. This is why directing plays such a major role in photography: being able to discern which side is more symmetrical and then directing your client into the right pose will get you the perfect portrait.

the upside down test – Facial Symmetry test

This test originated from an art school exercise devised to reduce mental conflict. By turning an image upside down you perceive things differently and immediately see the asymmetrical features that stand out the most, which can then help you choose the image that best represents your client. This test is great for tethered-capture when you have the ability to quickly flip the image while shooting to determine which side is the most flattering for your client.

Test it out with a couple of shots you’ve taken in the past and see for yourself if flipping the images upside down brings out any glaring issues that you could have fixed with a simple head tilt or turn.

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Images used in the article were taken directly from the Headshot Photography 101 Workshop coming next month to SLR Lounge Premium – upgrade today so you don’t miss out on new content released weekly!