Shocking Photo Series Explores Emotional Impact of Facial Disfigurement

After we got wind of photographer Wes Naman’s fun Scotch Tape project, a series of pictures in which he intentionally distorted various people’s facial features with pliable plastic to turn them into hilarious caricature versions of themselves, we approached another photographer’s seemingly similar project expecting the same sort of light-hearted silliness.

What we got instead was something entirely different.

While Naman did his series as a way to have fun outside of his day job, 34-year-old Rut Mackel created similar images with a different reason: to explore “the relation between attractiveness and identity.”

Mackel photographed her “Ugly Truth” photo series by capturing images of her models as they squished their faces against clear glass panes. In her project, the editorial and commercial photographer sought to learn how perceptions and opinions change based on looks and hoped to investigate the emotional impact facial disfigurement can have.

“This project explored the ugliness and the beauty that exists within each of us. By drastically transforming faces from aesthetically attractive to unpleasant appearance I wanted to challenge our perception of aesthetic appearance” she explained to The Daily Mail. “The face is a symbol of personal identity: it’s the mirror or the mask of the self. The mirror reflects or distorts. Our faces are us. Thus, facial disfigurement can be particularly distressing.”

Check out Mackel’s work in the slideshow above and tell us what you think of how people perceive each other based on looks.