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Perception and Reality: Seeing People In A Different Light

By Justin Heyes on August 14th 2014

Cogito ergo sum (I think, therefore I am) was a principle coined by René Descartes in 1637. The proposition explains that thinking about one’s existence proves in itself that they do exist. We use our senses to perceive the reality around us and accept it as the truth for the most part. Sebastian Petrovski’s Perception is Reality series questions what we actually perceive and what is actual truth.

Perception-Reality_1 Perception-Reality_2

The Melbourne-based photographer created a set of portraits of various models. The sets show each model in drastically different lighting and environment. This can alter the viewers emotions toward a subject, wither it be good or bad. The low-key lighting causes shapes and contours to appear, revealing features that are seemingly nonexistent on the flat, dull images.



 The project took roughly over a year. Each face was chosen carefully for its features and expressions.It was important that people came at a time well suited to them,” Pertrovski explained, “…it would not have been the same had I just asked the people immediately around me.

[Rewind: One Light and A Reflector | A Simple and Effective Lighting Technique]



 Pertrovski had this accompanying statement on the series:

I perceive and I assume I can distinguish between true perception and false perception. However, if I cannot prove (without doubt) whether what I perceive is real then how can I be certain if I am perceiving at all? Cogito ergo sum; or, I think, therefore I am. The first and, what I believe to be, the only item of knowledge. Perception is my reality and this is where I am forever trapped. Or am I free?

Pertrovski went on to explain that it wasn’t supposed to have any significant effect on people. Some of the models didn’t like the way there were portrayed and the series was “to be honest and far from any notion of ideals.”

To check out more from Petrovski you can check out his website at

CREDITS: All photographs by Sebastian Petrovski copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

(Via Gizmodo)

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Justin Heyes wants to live in a world where we have near misses and absolute hits; great love and small disasters. Starting his career as a gaffer, he has done work for QVC and The Rachel Ray Show, but quickly fell in love with photography. When he’s not building arcade machines, you can find him at local flea markets or attending car shows.

Explore his photographic endeavors here.

Website: Justin Heyes
Instagram: @jheyesphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Rafael Steffen

    Lighting makes a whole world of difference for creating different looks and styles of photography. I love that!

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  2. Rich Taylor

    This is great!

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  3. David De Fotograaf

    It makes you think, doesn’t it? People these days don’t want to see “real” things, they want lots of glamour and glitter, all flaws removed from their lives. Shiny long or short flawless hair.T Extra long lashes, etcc.. They want smartphones with lots of abilities, to be able to be connected to the internet 24/7. We often don’t talk to a real voice anymore, we SMS, snapchat, etc…
    Global warming? That’s not a real problem, we’re just making that up, or it’s not as bad as we think it is.

    Are we still? Or are we slowly dying and we don’t realize it? (Gotye – Walk The Plank With Our Eyes Wide Open)

    Sorry, got carried away there for a minute. :-)

    On a side note, I’m often amazed. The real model standing in front of me is hard to find. Just because they are afraid to have pictures like on the right examples. But when they do show themselves, it’s often a mix between the two pictures. With an added something: emotion.

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  4. Greg Faulkner

    Yep, the lighting makes a massive difference

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  5. Matthew Saville

    I REALLY love it when people do stuff like this! Very helpful for beginners and pros alike…

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    • Chuck Eggen

      I agree Matt. Just goes to show how much light plays into your image. More so than the camera you are using.

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  6. Austin Swenson

    It makes sense that an image with differences in color and lighting should communicate different emotion and moods, I mean that’s essentially why we stylize a photo the way we do, because we want to communicate that the viewer should perceive something or someone a certain way.

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    • Rafael Steffen

      I totally agree. I know a famous photographer that was able to build a unique style just the way he lights people in his studio. Mastering light is the great challenge in photography.

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