Who Do They Think They Are?

And who are they, really?

Photo: Ruvan Wijesooriya
Photo: Ruvan Wijesooriya

Every day, we put out into the world a version of how we want to be seen — and, of course, we’re always misunderstood. Each week in our “Judgments” photo project, we’re asking strangers on the streets of New York City to size each other up.

Kenneth (above)

“I think he could be a college professor, something science-y or a math class. He looks very smart. He has the look of a professor. He probably does not use technology. Probably spends a lot of time outdoors in nature. I could see him living in Brooklyn. He has money, but doesn’t seem like he has money. He doesn’t spend his money like that.” —Amanda, 20

“He’s retired. Paints. Maybe a widower.” —Alex, 28

“I think he’s a biology teacher. Eats pasta for dinner — plain pasta or alfredo. He takes cruises and just lives life on the cruise line.” —Danielle, 26

Writer and poet, 80. “I’m working on a novel about New York City. It’s a big, sprawling novel, so I’ve got plenty to do. I live in the East Village. I take trips in the winter. I have an engineering degree, but only worked as an engineer for six months. I just hated it so much.”

“These people who looked at me are very complimentary. Please praise [Amanda] for her insights — I was a college professor. Not anymore, but I taught for 18 years. She was quite insightful. I’m kind of afraid of Amanda. She sees right through me. I was married for about ten years. She died, and to my astonishment, I’ve never remarried. I do a lot of reading. I watch DVDs. I have no television. I’ve never had a television in my life. I have a gorgeous, brand-new, 15-inch Macbook Pro. And I have a comfortable setup and a chair, and I set the laptop up there, and I watch DVDs. But only good films, only good films. I’m very fussy. I do eat a lot of pasta.”

Jessica Boddy, Emma Grillo, and Sarah Nechamkin contributed reporting. On-set production by Jean Jarvis.

Who Do They Think They Are?