Celebrity portraits created using bacteria from their own bodies

Carol Vorderman, Stephen Fry and more have taken part in the science experiment to promote The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair.


A clever series of scientific portraits has been created using the bacteria of the celebrities they depict.

As part of a science experiment to promote The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair, Carol Vorderman, Stephen Fry, Dick and Dom, Liz Bonnin and Kieron Richardson each gave a sample of their bacteria, which was then used to create a "bacteriograph" of each celebrity.

The portraits, grown by American microbiologist and photographer Zachary Copfer, were created by exposing select areas of a petri dish to radiation, which encourages the bacteria to grow. Each portrait took around 48 hours to appear.

All six of the portraits will star in a free The Big Bang Fair exhibition from 15 February to 24 February at Millennium Point in Birmingham, before travelling to The NEC in Birmingham for The Big Bang Fair itself from 13 to 16 March.

Use the slideshow controls above and right to take a closer look at the bacteriographs and find out how they were made.

Zachary started the process of creating each portrait by taking a digital photograph of the subject, which he then turned into a halftone image.

This image was then used to create a negative that is placed over a petri dish of bacteria. Radiations was then shot through the negative onto the petri dish to burn away bacteria in the shape of the photograph. Once this process was complete, the photo got put into an incubator that slowly allows the portrait to emerge.

Right: Stephen Fry's finished bacteriograph.


"It's been great to have been given the chance to get involved with The Big Bang Fair," said Zachary. "I'm particularly excited that my work will be a big part of the Fair's central aim to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers – and hope that my work will not only help get young people excited about science but that it will also encourage them to apply the scientific knowledge they gain in fun and unique ways."

Right: Zachary with the bacteriographs he created of Carol Vorderman and Stephen Fry.

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"It was great fun taking part in this project, and the portrait looks brilliant," said Carol. "It's definitely one of a kind!"

Right: Carol Vorderman's bacteriograph.


Right: Children's TV presenter Dom's bacteriograph.


Right: Children's TV presenter Dick (the other half of presenting duo Dick & Dom) has also been depicted in a bacteriograph.

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Right: Hollyoaks actor Kieron Richardson's bacteriograph.


Right: Bang Goes the Theory presenter Liz Bonnin also took part in the experiement.