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On most days we view an image and immediately draw a conclusion about its meaning. We quickly move on with our lives, secure in our understanding of what we saw. what I thought I saw is an evolving traveling exhibit and photo-essay book that challenges its audience to stop for a moment and question such certainty.

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As the stories unravel the complicated and unexpected lives behind the images, the reader is invited to deconstruct the layers of misconceptions, biases and stereotypes behind that initial glance. While the promise of the “reveal” piques the reader’s curiosity, the novelty of the “gotcha” moment fades to the background as the story of a fascinating and layered person unfolds.

what I thought I saw is a about people—a fantastically diverse group of people—and the way we see them. It’s about the mistakes we make and the stories we miss because we perceive the world through an imperfect and highly personal visual lens.

It is not meant to be conclusive or didactic in any way, but rather a personal experience. It opens the door to self awareness and a temptation to explore the what I thought I saw moments all around us.