The Happy Thoughtful Man


I got this shot while working on a project to photograph panhandlers in Chicago. This is one of those pictures that resonate with me more because of the situation than of the picture itself.

Looking at this fellow, he has a beautiful face. With the right hair cut and the right clothes, it looks like this man could be anything he wanted: model, actor, lawyer, businessman, engineer, etc.

While this shot indicates a serene and thoughtful man, he is crazy. I don’t mean crazy like Robin Williams is crazy, or Evel Kenievel crazy. I mean not living in this clear and present reality kind of crazy. He was muttering to and gesturing to a non-existent person as he ate and drank out of garbage cans.

I guess there are some different ways to look at this photo. Perhaps this represents what this man could have been if only he were in his right mind. That in this one photo at this one moment of time we gain a glimpse of him in full mental health.

On the other hand, maybe this shows us that appearances are deceiving. That when we look at people, and maybe even when we talk to people we make certain judgments that are completely wrong.
There are people we admire based on what we see, but those same people would repulsed us if we knew about the things that we don’t’ see. I think too often we look at movies stars as being embodiments of the characters they portray, but in reality their morals or their intellect may be a vacuous as space and that if we had to spend a weekend with those people it would seem a week too long.


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