It’s in the Eyes

Renowned portrait photographer Tom Stone shoots with a discriminating eye, but it’s the eyes he shoots that remind us of our mission.

A vital part of the Good Men Project is to model the behavior we espouse and discuss here, safe within the confines of our “Project.” It is all smoke and mirrors or bullshit if we don’t. The luxury of coming into contact with the people who share a curiosity about and willingness to openly discuss what it means to be a “good” man is only a part of the picture. We also get to see the integrity  and feel the impact that someone who lives by a code, by a set of values and morals worthy of passing along, can have. Tom Stone is one of those people.

As a writer, I long to present the world with a point of view. A focal point that the world presents to me sent through the words. Sometimes words feel so inadequate.

Tom Stone has been creating connections in the communities he visits for years. On the streets with people who never share anything of themselves. Trips are planned in the coming months to Appalachia and Haiti. An acclaimed portrait photographer, he is able to tell the stories you normally might need words or a news photographer to tell if he was less talented.

We present a few representative works from Tom here, and would refer you to his site, Tom Stone Gallery, with the knowledge that a large part of his body of work is available for sale. In most cases the prints are signed, limited and a minimum of fifty percent of the price goes directly to charities he supports. A majority of the rest goes to funding the next project. Consider that as we enter the holidays.

I am including the Artists Statement from Tom’s Website because frankly, I haven’t ever seen a better one and to try and out do it would be dishonest and an insult to the man himself.

As you look at Tom’s work, notice the connection of one human to another; a connection in love, in compassion, and in awareness that the world is beautiful even in its ugliest places. It’s in the eyes.

◊♦◊

Artist Statement:

I photograph people who skirt the edges of things; people whose connection to the broader flow is murky or obscured.  Mistaken as more, less or different than they are; they aren’t really seen and don’t really belong. That’s everyone sometimes; but some more often. I try to establish a line for a moment. I hope to connect. And I see the most beautiful and the most heartbreaking things.

To my thinking, the original human trauma is our separation. We are too close not to need each other; and too far to trust each other. We rely on dubious senses and clever devices to interact; but we are alone in our thoughts. Lonely, insecure and uncertain; we pair, we group, we associate. We try to belong and we seek to exclude. We form bonds by geography, religion, economy and otherwise. But it is all precarious. We come together and we drive apart.

And we climb our ladder. We step away from those who don’t belong and help those who do. We are connected rung by rung—though less and less—as we push and pull. But some do not climb; and below, the earth is littered with them. They fit too poorly. They stand apart. They stand without.

And what of them; these ones who don’t belong or who are excluded; who don’t fit or don’t try? Is there nothing they value?  Is there nothing of them we value? I count it as a measure of our ignorance, the depth of poverty in the world.  It’s a glaring marker to how far we have not come. Yet it has also driven our advance; on less fortunate backs and against less fortunate fate.

But is there really no connection there? Does such fate—whether choice or circumstance—speak nothing of us? Tell me we do more than advance in place; with so many left behind. Or promise me we can do better. Say we can reflect ourselves; us and them. That we can see the ways we overlap and distinguish the ways we grow apart. And pledge that we can learn; to fit all of our misshapes; to reward value beyond charity and beyond the marketplace; to be better to each other; to be better ourselves. And promise me it could be a better world. Or tell me we are at our best.

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About Jack Varnell

Jack Varnell is a writer, poet, photographer
and social media addict living in the suburbs
of Atlanta, GA.

He is a regular contributor at
various online publications.

He can be found:
Twitter, @jackvarnell
Google Plus +Jack Varnell"
EmotionalOrphan.Net
and About Me about.me

Comments

  1. The Bad Man says:

    It’s very sad that all of these homeless men are neglected by society and men make up the vast majority of homeless neglected by government programs.

    What are good men doing about it besides taking pictures?

    • Todd Mauldin says:

      I hope I’m not feeding the trolls here, but on the off chance your question is genuine, Bad Man, I’ll tell you what I do:

      I raise money for homeless NGOs and charities locally, participate in events like Cardboard Box City (see my article about that here on GMP), help host homeless families, and help steer homeless people into shelters and treatment programs, and teach my children to do the same, and I pray for homeless people everywhere.

      Tell us about what you do.

  2. Thanks for this piece. “To my thinking, the original human trauma is our separation. We are too close not to need each other; and too far to trust each other. We rely on dubious senses and clever devices to interact; but we are alone in our thoughts. Lonely, insecure and uncertain; we pair, we group, we associate. We try to belong and we seek to exclude. We form bonds by geography, religion, economy and otherwise. But it is all precarious. We come together and we drive apart.” Love it.

  3. Todd Mauldin says:

    Jack, Tom: this is a wonderful photo essay that I’m very proud to see here on GMP. Thanks for sharing the images and stories with us.

    • Jack Varnell says:

      Thanks Todd. I am proud of this piece. Tom Stone is the embodiment of the GMP ethos, and troll bait or not a nerve gets struck, and my involvement gets called into question. I get the choice to do something or not. That is the highest call for an artist like Tom. Awareness is the first step. Then the discussion, and action, or not. GMP exists for those very reasons, and I can only hope to ask, discuss, and answer those questions in myself through that awareness. The world is not always beautiful, but there is beauty in the ugliest places…I wholeheartedly stand behind my opening paragraph. I have to live with that. GMP does a fine job of that too.

  4. Haunting. It is difficult to look at these photos and not see your own humanity reflected back at you in the eyes, not knowing that luck, a few particular people, a few particular choices here and there are all that separate you. Strip away the clothes, the hair, the skin, the body and what you have is another human soul reminding you that we are, collectively, one and the same.

  5. Thank-you very much Tom Stone, Amazing work you’re doing, Well Done!
    Best Wishes To Everybody And Good Luck!

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  1. [...] Please visit The Good Men Project to see the Photo-Essay Posted by The_Emotional_Orphan   @   28 October 2011 0 comments Tags : Addiction , Compassion , Good Men , homelessness , inner beauty , photographer , photographic essay   0 Comments [...]

  2. [...] by a set of values and morals worthy of passing along, can have. Tom Stone is one of those people. Don’t miss the rest of this one»> Posted in THE ORPHANAGE0 comments It’s in the Eyes Posted by The Emotional Orphan [...]

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