Huffpost Entertainment
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Michael Shaw Headshot

Reading the Pictures: If We Had Only Seen Hoffman in Pain

Posted: Updated:

2014-02-18-PSHre1.jpg

2014-02-18-PSH11.jpg

2014-02-18-PSHre2.jpg

These photos have been on my mind since February 2. I look at them now and the anguish, especially of someone trained to hide it, is wrenching. The pictures were taken at the Sundance Film Festival on January 19th, two weeks before Hoffman's death, by photographer Victoria Will.

One of the profound things about photographs is how they can live simultaneously in the present and the past. People do not though. If these photos make us feel like Philip Seymour Hoffman's depression could readily be seen or his lethal overdose could have been prevented, there are so many things that assured their ambiguity. Here are three:

We are socially trained to look away from other people's pain with the idea it's saving them from shame or embarrassment.

Public figures are people we think we already know.

No one expects an actor not to pose.

It's so easy to look at a pictures in hindsight and wonder how we could have missed it. But that's because it's now.

----------

BagNewsNotes: Today's media images analyzed. Topping LIFE.com's Best Photo Blogs, follow us at BAG Twitter, BAG Facebook and BAG via email.


(photos: Victoria Will/Invision/AP. caption: Philip Seymour Hoffman poses for a portrait at The Collective and Gibson Lounge Powered by CEG, during the Sundance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah.)