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We Talked To The Photographer Who Mashed Siblings Into Single Genetic Portraits

Ino Zeljak shared with us his photos of family members before and after they were Photoshopped into DNA Frankenstein composites.

by Zach Sokol
14 August 2014, 5:00pm

S. & T. / Brother & Sister

I have a fraternal twin brother, and although we look similar, I can't imagine what our faces would look like as one pasty hybrid. Photographer Ino Zeljak, however, could turn us into a synthesized Sokol that would even make Harvey Dent do a double take. 

Over the past couple weeks, a multitude of websites have covered the Croatian artist's genetic mash-up series /Metamorfoza/ in which he composited the faces of siblings, family members, and best friends into digital Frankenstein portraits. While the photos are captivating—especially since it's tough to tell where one face ends and another begins—Zeljak's Behance page only shares his final, post-Photoshopped images, leaving what each individual brother or sister looks like to the imagine.  

We were too curious about /Metamorfoza/, and reached out to Zeljak about how his project came to fruition. Not only did the artist take time from a vacation to answer a couple questions, but he shared some of the original photos, before he mixed them into a DNA hodgepodge. 

S. & L. / Sisters

[Editor's note: Zeljak's responses were slightly adjusted for grammatical clarity]

The Creators Project: What inspired this project? Do you come from a big family? 

Ino Zeljak: I was always interested in photographing people, so exploring similarites and differences came naturally. I just needed to find a way how to present it. Some of my subjects are genetically bounded, but some are just friends. The thing that was interesting to me was how similar/different connected people look like each other in simple portrait format photography.

Where did you find the subjects for this photo series? Did you choose any subjects for any particular aesthetic reason?  

People in the photographs are all either people I know, or friends of friends. It's hard to get people to pose and accept being exposed afterwards. This is an ongoing project, and I'm hoping to find one big family to merge them all. 

What Photoshop tools did you use to meld the siblings together?  

It was pretty simple: I took the photos in the same lighting conditions which made my editing a lot easier. Then, I overlapped two photographs and used the clone stamp, healing brush, and dodge and burn tools. I kept the hair and clothes from just one subject, though, to create the effect that you are seeing a casual portrait of one person, but when you look a bit closer you see something different and strange. 

How did the siblings and family members featured in the photos respond to the images? 

The reactions were nearly all very positive. Some of them couldn't believe how similar they look. Everyone gets comments on how similar we look to our siblings, or to someone else's, but we can't imagine that, or we refuse to believe it. I guess the people in the photos finaly had a chance to see it, and all of them wanted to keep the pictures. 

S. &  P. / Sisters

S. & D./ Best Friends

Dubravka & Judita / Twin Sisters

Hrvojka & I. / Sisters I.

Hrvojka & A. / Sisters //.

Anera & Petar /  Brother & Sister

For more of Zeljak's photo work, check out his Behance page here.

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