Memphis-based photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero's series "Wait Watchers," ongoing since 2013, comprises photographs of herself in public places, capturing others' expressions in reaction to looking at her as they pass. She sets up her shots with a visible, self-timed camera, usually on a tripod, and proceeds to do normal activities. Apparent looks of disgust from people while looking at her are frequently seen in the results.
One such example happened in Times Square, New York City. A man standing behind Morris-Cafiero made a face at her from behind her, as a friend of his grabbed a picture of him. That was part of her inspiration for the project.
The photographer said in an article at Salon,
"I do not know what the strangers are thinking when they look at me. But there is a Henri Cartier-Bresson moment when my action aligns with the composition, the shutter and their gaze that has a critical or questioning element. Even though they are in front of a camera, they feel they have anonymity because they are crossing behind me.
And I don’t get hurt when I look at the images. I feel like I am reversing the gaze back on to them to reveal their gaze. I’m fine with who I am and don’t need anyone’s approval to live my life. I only get angry when I hear someone comment about my weight and the image does not reflect the criticism. That’s frustrating: when I didn’t get the shot.
But since the project started getting media attention, I’ve received hundreds of emails from people thanking me. There are so many people in the world who feel they have the right – no, the obligation — to criticize someone for the way they look, and to be that recipient of those insults can feel so lonely. I got an email from a 15-year-old girl in Belgium who said my images made her “feel better and not care about what others think and live my life.” That made me proud. As for what the images mean, viewers may interpret the images as they see fit. I’m just trying to start a conversation."
Via Viral Nova | Images: Haley Morris-Cafiero