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Sustainable Prospects – Shoot Mod4#4 – Responding to Aleix Martinez’s 21 Emotional

For this shoot, I chose to give Iain a list of the emotions recorded by Martinez and team.  See previous blog post. Iain was asked to express each one in turn, in much the same way that the original experiments have been reported to have been conducted.

“The experimenter taking the subject’s pictures suggested a possible situation that may cause each facial expression, e.g., disgust would be expressed when smelling a bad odor. This was crucial to correctly produce compound emotions. For example, happily surprised is produced when receiving wonderful, unexpected news, whereas angrily surprised is expressed when a person does something unexpectedly wrong to you. Subjects were also shown a few sample pictures. . . Subjects were not instructed to try to look exactly the same as the exemplar photos. Rather, subjects were encouraged to express each emotion category as clearly as possible while expressing their meaning (i.e., in the example situation described by the experimenter). A verbal definition of each category accompanies the sample picture. Then the suggested situation was given. Finally, the subject produced the facial expression.”

– (Du, Tao and Martinez, 2014: 7)

The results from Martinez’s experiments are shown in figure 1.

Figure 1: Du, Tao and Martinez, 2014:2

Iain’s response to the same emotion keywords is shown in the slideshow below. Iain was given these emotions as a list in the same order as the images above. A single photograph was taken for each emotion. He was not shown the above image until after the photographs were taken.

It is clear from the experiment that Iain is quite expressive with his face.  He found a couple of the emotions confusing and tricky to portray.  These were ‘Happily Disgusted’, “Sadly Angry’, ‘Sadly Disgusted’ and ‘Fearfully Disgusted’.  In each case, Iain found the two emotions to appear to be contradictory.  For each of these emotions, he found that the second one in the title was the one he majored on and the other played a minor part in the final expression.  For this reason, these emotions are not totally clear or obvious to a viewer.He reported it was difficult to add an additional emotion to ‘Disgusted’ in particular.  This is because to portray the base emotion, Iain found he had to deliberately contort his face to portray the ‘Disgusted’ emotion.

There are emotions that worked really well in the sequence, particularly the single word emotions such as ‘Happy’, ‘Sad’, ‘Angry’, ‘Surprised’ and ‘Disgusted’.  He reported that it was straightforward to add an additional emotion to ‘Surprised”.  Portraying the base emotion involved opening his eyes and mouth wider.  This took considerably less effort to portray than ‘Disgusted’ for example.

Moving forward from this, in photo shoots it will be possible to direct models to produce different facial expressions.  However, I do think that the simpler expressions are easier to read as a viewer and so I will be concentrating my efforts on these.


Du, S., Tao, Y. and Martinez, A. (2014). Compound facial expressions of emotion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(15), pp.E1454-E1462.


Figure 1: Du, S., Tao, Y. and Martinez, A. (2014). Compound facial expressions of emotion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(15), pp.E1454-E1462.


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