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Application deadline
August and September 2021
My Complex Stranger TFP
The brief

My Complex Stranger Project (the name might be changed later) is a personal project which is initiated from personal and inner concerns of mine. In this project, I would like to convey two pieces of information to the audience with a bit of a time margin in between. The first one is the visual information that we receive at the very first sight from a person, the appearance and the look of the person. We always use this information of strangers and leverage it to judge people. We allow ourselves to make noisy and biased judgments about the complex human personality only based on their looks [1]. This information plus believing that people are transparent leads to unbelievably massive misunderstandings that can cause the butterfly effects in everyone's lives and even their surroundings' [2].
Then, I would like to introduce a more complex piece of knowledge that can only be delivered if and only if we spare some quality time knowing that person. Taking some time on listening to the person that we do not hesitate to judge without even a bit of consideration.
The goal of this project is to break several unhealthy habits that social media brought to our lives: 1) Judgment based on the visual appearance of people, 2) making us lazy not to listen to people, 3) losing the ability to focus without swiping or double-tapping. We cannot receive all the information only by visual analysis [3]. Our longest commitments are 5 seconds on a picture before liking or ignoring it, or reading a headline of a piece of news before deciding to give a speech about what we only know 5 words about [4]. The unrealistic expectation gives us the hallucination that we can get the whole story by reading the only couple of words about it.
These days we cannot even commit to a text on our screens that takes 5 minutes to read, how on earth are we going to commit to life-long vocations [5].
In this project, I would like to create portraits of people as the representative of the first type of information that we receive on an hourly basis. The pictures provide enough information about people's appearance for us to judge them: every inch of her body is covered with tattoos she most certainly is a drug dealer. Oh, he is a guy that is a nanny? He definitely is gay (thanks to Friends for this example).
For the second type of information, I would like the audience to take their time to listen to the actual human being beyond the physical. To listen to their stories. To just listen to them. As the little prince said, when you make a new friend and tell the adults, they never ask you the kind of questions that should be asked, such as: “What kind of voice does he have?” “What are his favorite games?” “Does he collect butterflies?” Instead, they ask: “How old is he?
I would like to provide a vocal message along the portraits to let people know more about their complex strangers.
I would like you to register here for a portrait photo session with me if you think you are misjudged for any reason based on how you look or dress or make a first impression.
The session would have 2 parts: first, taking pictures in the agreed setup and outfit, and second, listening to your story. The result of the session would be a selected picture along with a recorded voice or a written story of you.
This project is a personal one and it is not funded by any third party, therefore, the contract would be on a TFP-based agreement. A written contract would also be possible.
The mutual agreement would be the necessary prerequisite to share the photos and the story behind them on social media or exhibition.
So, if you are interested, please fill in this form ( and I will contact you as soon as I am ready to set up the session.
All the information you put here in this form will be private and will not be shared under any circumstances.

Please do not hesitate to contact me in case of any question:
Mahdi Esmailoghli
Instagram: @mahdi.esmailoghli
Email: [email protected]

[1] 'Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment' by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, Cass Sunstein.
[2] 'Talking to Strangers' by Malcolm Gladwell
[3] 'You're Not Listening: What You're Missing and Why It Matters' by Kate Murphy
[4] 'The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life' by David Brooks
[5] 'The Road to Character' by David Brooks

Application deadline
August and September 2021
Looking for
I am looking for models for this project, however, the model does not necessarily need to be experienced. I am looking for people that would like to share the story of their life and would like to share with other people. The model can be from Any age, ethnicity, gender, and ... . Looking for interesting people to take portraits and listen to them.
Time on Set
3 hour
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