Do you see the resemblance?

seeing a resemblance, shot with iphone 4S

I already posted this on Facebook, but I couldn’t resist posting it again here. It makes me unreasonably happy.

As I was chatting with one of the dads in the neighborhood recently, he apologized for not recognizing me immediately. He explained that he has Prosopagnosia, or “face blindness.” (The artist Chuck Close has it too) This is a condition where the person’s ability to recognize faces is impaired. He explained that when he used to come home from college for visits, he was afraid he wouldn’t recognize his parents.

I was of course fascinated by this and wanted to ask him dozens more probing questions. But it got me thinking: Whatever part of the brain is causing this difference in him, is overactive in me. I recognize EVERYBODY.

When I was living in Venice, Italy, I recognized a random schoolmate from college on the steps of the train station. I had never actually spoken to him before, just saw him at a keg party once. Another time, while riding the bus in San Francisco, I sat next to a man that looked incredibly familiar to me. I told him I knew him from somewhere, so we went through the usually battery of questions. Where do you work? Where did you grow up? I finally realized that I had never met him before and I had seen his picture only once — in my sister’s high school yearbook. (She went to a private school far from our home)

It gets embarrassing sometimes.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while (or follow me on Instagram) you also know that I see faces in my food as well. I guess this is my thing. One of my superpowers.

Do you find faces too? In the clouds? in the cracks of the concrete? in your breakfast? Add them to my collection over at Flickr!

P.S. Today is the last day to enter the raffle for the Canon DSLR + all the other awesome prizes!!



  1. susan
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    ..At Christmas-time, a long time ago: 1984/85 i was working in an exchange program and we had holidays in San Fransisco.. I explored a lot on my own & on my first ride on the lite-transit, i was pretty privately thrilled about being there and glanced wonderingly thru the window. On the street, two younger teens were (piggyback-riding), looking so happy and they saw me/and waved exuberantly.. For some reason, i just feel one of the girls was You, A., but i know it is unlikely.. When i found your blog, and reading it for years now, i just feel the spirit of those girls, is personified in you – the friendliness, adventursomeness, giddiness (sometimes), make me feel i had a brush with you, 1984 version. (I stubbornly remember: you). PS.I am really good w. faces too.

  2. Posted September 17, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Hey Andrea, I was talking to someone about this recently bc I also have this superpower. It extends to movies quite a bit, and IMDB generally backs me up when I claim someone from one movie was in another movie.

    Anyway it is a super helpful trait to have in photography bc I can look through a lens and immediately identify in a group of 10+ people who has a weird look on their face… quickly. Or if someone’s face looked weird while I clicked the shutter. I think it might be one of the reasons I like people photography!

  3. jmbh
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Another thing we have in common!! It’s very embarrassing. In fact, I often won’t tell people that I recognize them “from a 300 person lecture hall where we both took a CTY class” 23 years ago”. Or the like. I got a little tired of the “are you a stalker” looks ;0)
    On the other side is my husband who can’t remember ANYONE!

  4. Posted September 17, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    I am right there with you! I can recognize faces of classmates from elementary school, the girl who was popular in junior high (but never knew I existed), someone I worked with for a moment in college, and more. I am fairly shy and withdrawn so I quite often I know people who don’t remember me at all. It is bizarre to say the least! Of late though it has gotten confusing for me because I am taking a migraine controlling medicine that has a bizarre side-effect…it causes one to forget names. I am not even kidding-it says this right in the literature. I thought I was losing my mind at first, until I read this in the patient literature. According to studies though, the memory comes back when the patient goes off the medicine (whew!). So now I’m stuck in a universe where I recognize tons of faces but remember few names. And feel embarassed because of this all the time!

  5. Renee
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    These pictures made me laugh out loud! Sweet and awesome!

    Hmmm…I don’t find many faces in things, but that’s probably because I am not paying attention…must start doing that now :)

  6. Posted September 17, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    This is so funny to me. I tell people all the time that I’ll forget a name in two seconds flat, but never forget a face. I use to own a retail store, and there were times when I would see someone someplace and swear I knew them, only to figure out later they were a customer in the store. And, yes the pic above is amazing.

  7. Posted September 17, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Uncanny likeness.

  8. Posted September 17, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    That puppy looks just like my dog! Uncanny resemblence.

    I often see faces in unlikely places as well – trees, food, flowers. I often recognise people that I haven’t really had much to do but our lives may have crossed paths briefly in the past. I’m not always brave enough to say anything to them though!

  9. Posted September 17, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if those two things really are linked? I am a super-face-recognizer too and I have always seen faces in everything since I was kid!

  10. Posted September 18, 2012 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    Having traveled so much and having met so many people I (think) I see them every where I go.

    It doesn’t happen often but it does happen and usually I recognize someone that I met on the other side of the world and who I see or think I see is just their doppelganger but it throws me because for a second I will forget what part of the world I am in.

    I find myself painfully observant and that sounds derogatory but its true. I remember everything I’ve seen and also events that have taken place with specific people and can often recount them to the point of embarrassment.

    Maybe these traits that we share are those of artists or people who think more abstractly than others. I think they are a very unique part of how we are able to express ourselves as artists.

    Often we see what a lot of others don’t.


  11. *karen
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    I never would have seen that, but now that you pointed it out…I am unreasonably happy too, ha!

  12. Candyce
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    I’ll bet your ability to see faces in things is linked to your ability to empathize, be compassionate, and to feel things deeply-haven’t there been studies to show that people seek commonalities and traits in others as a way of connecting? You’re able to connect with everything on a deep level! :)

  13. Posted September 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    This photo side by side with the banana and the dog had me in stitches giggling like a maniac! As my son stares at me, probably thinking, “Crazy mommy lady is at it again!”.

  14. Posted September 18, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    A much needed laugh!

  15. northnaha
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Hi. I’ve just added a few photos to the flickr group. Does anyone remember what it is called — the seeing of faces in inanimate objects? I know there’s a word for it but can’t come up with it right now.

  16. Posted September 21, 2012 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    so funny…I’m like that too – I will recognize someone even if I just passed them in the supermarket. never ever forget a face…won’t remember names but faces are engrained! funny isn’t it?!? love it actually.

  17. Posted September 25, 2012 at 2:45 am | Permalink

    Your thought about the photo of the dear little shitzu and the banana relative is so wonderful I can’t stop thinking about it. It makes me unreasonably happy too – thanks for the joy!

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