The Nashville Bomber – Anthony Warner. I’ve gotten over 100 emails and texts from people who have taken our course Body Language Tactics and watch The Behavior Panel on YouTube asking me what I think about the facial expression of the Nashville Bomber, Anthony Warner, in his driver’s license photo that’s all over the television and internet. You’ve probably seen it.
Quite often you’ll see articles in magazines of a photo of a Hollywood Power-Couple and the headline will read something like: “How Does Ariana REALLY Feel About Peter Davidson? In This Photo, Body Language Expert _____ Breaks it Down.” Can that be done? Can you look at a photo and know for sure what each person captured is thinking or feeling? Is it possible to look at a single photo of a person and know for sure what’s on their mind? Are they suicidal? Do they dislike a certain politician? Are they hungry? Angry? Disgusted? Jealous? Happy? Sad? Worried about their children?
Think about it like this; You are looking at a thin slice of time captured by the camera. You may be seeing a transition from one expression to another. You may be seeing the person being kissed on the cheek as that person sees something that excites them, makes them sad, or triggers a specific bad memory. Or a happy one. That expression may have been a micro-expression that lasted for only a tiny fraction of a second that had nothing at all to do with their thoughts or feelings about the person kissing them or standing next to them.
The bottom line is this, it depends on the circumstances surrounding the photo. For example, was it taken as a loved one died, said “I do”, or spotted a puppy, kitten, or a child running toward them? What is happening in real-time as the photo was taken? There are so many factors that need to be put into context with what’s happening at that specific moment in time.
Let’s take a look at Anthony Warner’s driver’s license photo. A split second of time captured digitally of a guy at the DMV. Can we tell what was on his mind? When was the photo taken? What was he dealing with at the time? Had his brother just recently passed away when the photo was taken? He was known as an avid animal lover. Had his last senior dog just died? Was he going through a mid-life crisis? Was he lonely? Had he recently been through a relationship break-up? Media coverage tells us all of these things were happening to him. But which of these things, or what number of these things, were running through his mind as the photo was taken? We will never know.
In the photo, he does look sad? His face is close to expressionless, almost nothing there. You can see the lines on his forehead due to his brow being pushed up just a bit like most everyone’s when their photo is taken at the DMV. You could also look at this photo and say it denotes boredom. You could say it indicates sadness due to his eyebrows being pulled toward the middle just slightly. However, his eyes are fully open showing no tension of the orbicularis oculi (a muscle in the face that closes the eyelid). We see no tension in the jaw and no grief muscle in the chin or forehead.
Has the camera caught him as he transitioned from boredom to sadness? From sadness to boredom? Is it a combination of both? Or was he thinking about the horror he would create as the bomb he built to kill himself on Second Avenue in his RV exploded? We will never know.
A single photo, if put into context correctly, can give you loads of information about the person and the situation. You can see sadness. You can see happiness. You can see loneliness. You can see a myriad of expressions, feelings, and situations. But what can you see in the photo of a suicidal bomber who destroyed an entire downtown city block? Just the nearly blank and hopeless expression on the face of a man at the DMV.
You can learn more at BodyLanguageTactics.com