She Was Just Trying To Take A Self-Portrait, But Caught So Much More
April 9, 2015 #impact
By PenolopyBulnick

Haley Morris-Cafiero is an Associate Professor and Assistant Dean at Memphis College of Art.  She is also a photographer.  One of her biggest and best known projects is Wait Watchers.

For Haley Morris-Cafiero everything started in 2010 with this photo she took of herself at Time Square in New York City.

While it was meant to just be a self-portrait, it wasn't until after she developed the film that she discovered the man behind her and the expression on his face.  This began her photo series where she would set up cameras in normal situations and take pictures of herself when the people around her were not aware. 

There is no lack of judgment at a clothing store.

Haley Morris-Cafiero

The photo of her with the two policeman is, in my opinion, the most extreme of the ones she took.  Not only are they reacting to her with their facial expressions, but one goes as far as to tease her by, for some reason, floating his hat above her head.

Sitting out in her swimsuit draws the gaze of people passing by.

While walking around in her swimsuit, other beach-goers can't help but look as they walk by.

It wasn't until February of 2013 when Lenscratch, Huffington Post, and Daily Mail UK picked her photo series up that it really went viral.  Once this happened, the comments started building up.  She was surprised to see how many people were so eager to criticize her and her looks.  This sparked the next step of her project.

People told her she should improve her body, so that is what she did.  She continued to set up situations where she took photos of herself, but now she concentrated on setting up situations where she was attempting to "improve" herself. Her goal is to engage in the conversation around body image. On her newly launched Kickstarter campaign for her new photography book The Watchers, Haley writes, "I present the images to the world to start a conversation. While I do not know what the passersby is thinking, I attempt to reverse the gaze back onto the stranger." 

What are your thoughts on her project?  Do you think people are too quick to judge people they don't even know?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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