What are they thinking? - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

What are they thinking?

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

One Bluff City photographer's project has gone viral all over the world.

It started out as just a personal experiment.  She put herself in a place filled with people, an uncomfortable setting for some, and shot some self-portraits.  

She traveled the country to do this and what she came back with, may shock you.

Picture this:  You're out in public with a friend and you see someone with a look that surprises you. Maybe they have crazy hair, funny make-up or wild clothes. How many of you have leaned over and elbowed your friend or let out a little giggle? Well, what this artist caught on camera, by accident, may change the way many of you act in public.

"I never thought I would capture it," Memphis College of Art Assistant Professor Haley Morris-Cafiero said.  

It happens all the time; someone sees someone "different" and makes a joke. Morris-Cafiero says it's happened to her all her life. "For me it's peoples' interaction with you-- identifying you based on your image," she said.

She's a professor and a trained photographer. So she decided to set the camera up on herself and catch others' reactions, this time on purpose. "When I got the film back, I noticed behind me, there's a guy.  I guess he's kind of laughing, kind of snarling at me and even though he's in Times Square, like the overload of visual and being photographed by a blonde beautiful woman, he's more interested in me," she said.

She noticed him almost immediately when going through frames.  "Then it happened five minutes later," Morris-Cafiero said.

She said she wasn't hurt or upset at what she saw, but she realized her self-portrait project had turned into something else. The artist in her saw it as something better. "It happens all the time. We all do it. But there's a certain level of-- I think we think we're protected by anonymity-- walking behind somebody," she said.
She shoots hundreds of pictures. She goes to a public place, sets her camera up in plain view and still catches strangers sometimes making fun. She says regardless of what you choose to see in these pictures, there's a lesson we can all learn. "Really think about your actions, your words even if you think you're not being seen, you might be," Morris-Cafiero said.

Her job is to just present these photos to the world. It's up to you to decide what they mean or what the people in them may be thinking at the time.

She told FOX13 News she has gotten a lot of feedback after making these public. She said some people are taking them one way, some are taking them another. But regardless, it's starting a conversation and she says as an artist that's exactly what she wants -- a conversation.

Morris-Cafiero said she's hoping to get her photos published and create something like a coffee table book. Maybe even get them all in a gallery. Head over to our Facebook page and let us know what you think she should do with these pictures.

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