I thought that we had evolved as a nation, but every time we think we’re evolving, we get knocked right back down by stereotypes.

Sonya - Irvine, CA

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From director and photographer, Mark Leibowitz comes a two-year introspective and personal exploration pointedly examining the stereotypes we place on each other, how they affect us, and their external and internal social ramifications.

Artistically, Leibowitz blends candid and stark photography with powerful storytelling designed for consumption on today’s popular media platform and format, Instagram. See below as Stereotypes first asks audiences to judge each subject based solely on their face, then with the added context of their clothing and body image, and then finally amid their environment.

Think about your stereotypes of the people below.

Then click on each video to turn the sound on and hear their stories.


The world views me as a threat because anyone who threatens the status quo, ask questions, tells the stories of those who are unheard, or who have been silenced historically, threatens the idea of oppression continuing. I'm a freedom fighter and that's scary to a lot of people.

BLAIR - New york, NY


Our culture and our generation is, to me, one of the most accepting and forward thinking and we're in a time where we want to learn more about people. Are you willing to change so that we can eliminate stereotypes?

Harper - Houston, TX


Every ethnicity needs to participate in our decision making in our country, not just one race. It's unfair. But we have to start somewhere. And if we don't start somewhere, we're going to continue to have problems. We're going to continue to have bad racism, the hate crimes, the white people against the black people, the white people against the Mexicans. Everyone can live here if everyone would just respect and love each other. That's the key, respect.

sonya - irvine, ca


I’m bisexual, always been. When I was a kid I looked like a little girl.
I was judged.

Rusty - Hollywood, CA


The biggest experience of my life that made me who I am right now was my time in Afghanistan with my best friend and my squad leader, Joe Wrightsman, and him passing away… It personally affected me because it taught me that nothing is promised and to treat the people just better.

SCOTT - Playa Vista, CA


If I were president, I would, instead of trying to block people out, I would celebrate the fact that the United States is this melting pot, is this wonderfully, vibrantly cultural place.

Kim Rose - eL MONTE, CA


About the Project

The Stereotypes project began just prior to the 2016 election when I noticed myself stereotyping people who I disagreed with politically. I found the discourse in our country reaching a new level of vitriol coupled with a massive lack of understanding. To initially shape the project, I reached out to Michelle Elam, the former Director of African & African American Studies, who is affiliated with The Program in Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Stanford University. She provided some initial direction and reading for me to begin this journey.

As part of this project, I reached out to friends for introductions, and posted numerous Craigslist ads asking to photograph and film a diverse range of people in California, Texas, New York, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

The response has been incredible and while it sometimes feels like there is only animosity flowing in all directions, everyone I spoke to had fantastic insights into how stereotypes often blind us to people’s characters, beliefs and intentions. Throughout these short interviews, they have also shared various ideas for how we may reconcile our differences and progress as a nation.


I think stereotypes are hurting all of us. This project seeks to foster discussion in all directions. It’s time for change. I want to hear your story.

Thank you,