I’ve always been fascinated by photography, particularly in portraits. I am inspired by Brandon Stanton’s photo blog “Humans of New York” and I decided to pick up photography using my mother’s unused Nikon 60D. Mostly because I have a passion for people, technology and art so why not pick up a hobby that combines the three! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that I am a photographer. In fact, I barely know anything about photography. I am using this project to practice and learn more about photography as well as learn more about people. I decided to take up the project of photographing 100 strangers and what better place than Stony Brook University, the campus I attend every day. After the first day I realized that photographing strangers is well… strange! It was also incredibly exciting and left me filled with adrenaline after each portrait. There’s something about taking a candid photo of someone you don’t know that feels incredible.
Follow me during this project right here or over at my project instagram @HumanExperienceProject
START: 10/06/14 || END: Ongoing
#1: There is no better feeling than making your subject smile.
#2: “Is this for the no smoking campaign? Hold on I’m gonna go toss this”
#3: At first she was very shy, but then she began to giggle and smile; and that moment made my day.
#4: People rarely read the newspaper these days. I admire this guy because he was the only one not on his phone.
#5: Reading a book in the shade
#6: Candid smoke sesh outside Frey Hall
#7: Just catching up with his buddy
#8: He told me he was studying hard for an exam
#9: Everybody says they don’t look good in photos, but they’re usually wrong. We had a great conversation, I hope I didn’t make you too late to your midterm.
#10: Often times, those that appear the most shy exhibit the most profound beauty.
#11: This beautiful baby girl had the most irresistible vivid eyes.
#12: I was really diggin’ this dude’s mustache. Surprisingly, he was also the first person to ask if I was going to post his photo.
#13: I love finding people hidden off by themselves.
#14: When I asked this man for his photo he said “Who ME!?” and let out a nice chuckle which made me laugh, so it was a good day.
#15: She seemed really suspicious of me taking a photo of her but in the end she allowed me to. I think you can see the suspicion in her facial expression.
#16: “I don’t know what makes a good picture or what makes people interested. I get into Photoshop a lot, I like making women look beautiful”
#17: “You see how those clouds formed in waves? Before they looked like UFO’s. Those are Lenticular Clouds, they normally form near mountain ranges.”
– What brings them over here?
“I’m not entirely sure so I’m trying to get pictures of them, it will probably be a case study”
#18: “My greatest struggle has been staying true to myself”
#19: – If you could give one piece of advice to the world what would it be?
“Don’t forget to eat”
#20: “I used to go to school in Syracuse. My immediate family lives here but my friends and the rest of my family are in Syracuse. My biggest struggle has been being away from them.”
#21: “I have a quick survey question if you have a second?”
“If you could pick one thing that a girl shouldn’t judge a guy on what would it be?”
– Beard Length
#22: – What has been your greatest struggle?
“Overcoming my self and the instincts that lead us to make poor decisions. Also, to be okay with discomfort in life and to not run away towards some sort of escape.”
#23: – Tell me a little bit about Camp Kesem
“Camp Kesem is a non-profit organization that helps children who’s parents have struggled with, overcame, or lost the battle to cancer. It’s a free program and a great opportunity for children to establish a group of peers who have been through similar struggles. This whole week we’ve had Kesem week to spread awareness and raise money so these kids can go to camp.”
– Why are you giving out free hugs?
“Today is our last day of Kesem week so we’re giving out hugs because hugs make people feel amazing.”
#24: – If you could give one piece of advice to the world what would it be?
“To always appreciate your self. In high school, I was stuck in relationships that maybe I wasn’t meant to be in because I guess I wasn’t confident in myself. Being out of those relationships has made me realize that you have to be your own best friend before you can be with others.”
#25: – What are you most proud of?
“The capacity to love.”
– Tell me about your ability to love
“Theres a quote that goes something like, ‘How could a rose have thorns? But a better question to ask is isn’t it amazing that a thorn bush has roses?’ The capacity of love is just that, despite everything that’s happening people are still people. Deep down we all want the same thing and that’s to be loved, to care for others and to share the love and passions inside of us. We should also always feel gratitude. To sit here and talk to you about this right now is the best thing in my life because this moment right now is the only thing that exists. The now is tainted with our perception of it. You should see things for as they are, not what they have been or what they will be but what they are in this very moment.”
#26: “I’m in the process of coming out to my family that I’m gay. The most difficult part has been actually saying it. So far my parents have either been alright with it or apathetic but I’ve always expected that. Not telling anybody for so long has left me in a weird state where I expect to get bad reactions. The first person I ever told was a very good friend of mine and she said, ‘I love you and I support you but I will never ever approve of that’ It brought a lot of things into perspective for me. The next person I told was the absolute best person I could have told and he is incredibly supportive of me. But ya know what, none of this changes the fact that I’m in a good college, that I’m doing what I want to do and that I am who I am.”
#27: – How do you want to help people?
“I want to make people happy because sometimes its really hard to do that.”
– Tell me about a time when you found it difficult to be happy?
“I changed from pre-med to pre-nursing and transferred from another school. The semester before I transferred I was very doubtful of getting into Stony Brook, but I got in and I was extremely happy. I remember when my mom called me to tell me the letter came in and I cried.”
#28: – What do you think it means to connect with someone?
“When you’re able to identify them as someone who is easy to talk to and has something genuine they want to share with you . You can move past the small talk a little and share what’s really going on with you.”
#29: – What are you most afraid of?
“Not having genuine relationships because the most important thing is forming honest connections with people, what do you have if not that?”
– Why are you fearful of that?
“I’ve settled a lot and watch people settle all the time. I think it’s difficult to stop settling and find a person you fully resonate with.”
– What do you think the most important element of connecting with someone is?
“Honesty. Sharing your most honest self and expecting the same from that person. I find that I give more than I get sometimes and that’s hard because people are guarded. This guard prevents them from being the best version of themselves and in turn inhibits successful connections.”
#30: – What are you most proud of?
“I’m proud of the fact I’m still here despite all that I have been through.”
What has been your greatest struggle?
“My birth mom died when I was six and my step mom died a couple of years ago, both of cancer.”
– What has been the most difficult part of that?
“Well my birth mom was in remission so it was a big surprise when she died and I don’t have any memory of her. My step mom went through six months of extreme degeneration and seeing what happened to her physically was very hard. It happened very fast and we knew from the start what was happening to her, we knew that she was going to die. I wasn’t particularly close with her but she had been my step mom since I was seven, it felt like she was my mom and I loved her.”
#31: This is Paul. He was pretty set on this pose so I thought I’d let his awesome style speak for itself.
#32: “Social boundaries prevent you from doing certain things around people. I feel really connected with my girlfriend. I’ve known her a while and we have a lot of memories.”
– Tell me about your greatest memory with her?
“It wasn’t really happy but, but one time we parked my car in a carpool lot because our parents wouldn’t let us sleep over. For some reason we thought it would be a good idea to have a couple four-lokos in the front seat. The cops came and saw the alcohol so they searched my car but we ended up getting out of it.”
#33: What do you think it means to be truly connected with somebody?
“I think it means to not only be connected with them physically but with their soul. Being connected has to do with your mindset. You connect physically, mentally, emotionally and it really doesn’t happen a lot. It’s rare these days to really connect with someone.”
– Tell me about a time when you felt connected to somebody?
“Right now, with you. I think it’s great that you’re here talking to me.”
– What makes you feel connected to me?
“I think the fact that you’re an objective complete stranger. It gives me the opportunity to get something off my chest. You don’t open up to someone unless they have a warm personality and they are willing to offer part of themselves.”
#34: – What’s the best memory you have with your wife?
“The birth of our kids. It’s a miracle to see your kids born and to share that with someone. When you’re sitting next to your wife in bed, holding your baby in your arms it feels like a miracle.”
– Whats the hardest thing about being a father?
“Letting go, letting them live their life”
– What do you want for your kids?
“I want them to be happy, they don’t need to make a lot of money they just need to do something that makes them happy. I want them to do something they’re passionate about.”
#35: – What do you think it means to really connect with someone?
“That’s actually a very difficult question. I recently found that I’m not very compatible. I’ve found that my only means of communication is analysis. Beyond that, I don’t really know what to talk about and I force conversation that doesn’t form connections. I think people often inhibit themselves because they don’t want to come off in a poor way as opposed to someone who is open and comfortable with themselves. When you have those qualities it allows you to flourish in relationships.”
#36: – If you could be any color what would it be?
“Any color? That’s a difficult question. I think it would be sky blue because that has always been my favorite color. It also most closely resembles my calm personality. I think I would have to choose brown though because well.. (points at skin) that’s what I’m used to.”
#37: – What do you think it means to be truly connected to somebody?
“I think you can trust that they have the same feelings you do. When you say you love them you can trust that they will say it back.” – Tell me about a time when you felt this way. “I was really frightened to tell a girl I loved her because it wasn’t considered acceptable. She was older than me and although we knew it wasn’t acceptable we were able to open up to each other. She was just always there, we were very much alike and no matter what, I could trust that she would be there for me. She was very communicative and we talked about everything together, I guess that’s why we fell in love”
#38: “I feel as though people just click. You can’t force friendships, or it won’t work. Ive tried to make friends, but it just feels like work rather than a fun friendship. I just have my best friend Ali. We just met while walking to McDonalds waiting for a friend of ours. For some reason, I just felt so comfortable with her. So before I knew it we became best friends and 5 years later we’re still best friends.”
#39: -What do you think it means to truly connect with someone?
“I think people find stronger connections with others on different things. For me, it’s mostly down to instinct and how attuned to each others frequencies we are – but in a more solid sense, what I connect with mostly in another person is both breadth and depth in interests and outlook on life.”
-Tell me about a time you truly connected with someone?
“In the summer I took a trip to Canada; initially just to see my friend Nate who went to school with me for a couple years – I didn’t expect to meet through his friend of a friend the first person in ten years that I could call none other than my best friend. Not only did we have almost everything in common in terms of interest, but I found myself always learning from him and encouraged by him – and him me. I was surprised that halfway around the world I could meet someone I connected with on so many levels, and the slim chance of the circumstances of our meeting only made it that much more special.”
-What allowed you to connect to him on such a personal level?
“I think Abdulla is a great example of someone who I share a frequency with – our outlook on life is optimistic, curious and accepting of the unknown. I have found no shortage of people who I share interests with, but how we approach the activity of living – which encompasses all else – really harmonises with each other’s views; I feel like we are two sides of the same coin.”
#40: – What is your goal in life?
“I wanna get involved in politics. Ultimately, I would really like to be president. It’s kind of an impossible goal and everybody thinks it’s crazy but I want to fix our government ” – What do you think it means to connect with someone? “I think it comes down to really understanding someone. If you don’t understand someone than you really have no connection with them. When I was 7 my parents divorced and my whole family kinda split apart and for a long time I felt alone. Then I started taekwondo and I started forming connections with people and making really close friends. We all had a common interest and a common goal and that allowed me to get a good response from them.”
#41: – Tell me about a time when you really connected with somebody?
“It’s funny that you say that because I’m actually thinking of a friend of mine that I met in class. She was really nice and she can make anything into something funny. I’m from El Salvador and she is from Ecuador so we’re from similar backgrounds. We’re both from Spanish countries so we share a lot of cultural similarities and that makes it really easy for us to connect.”
#42: “Today I actually got out of bed and made it to class. I just really enjoy sleeping. If I could, I’d sleep 12 hours a day. That’s why I don’t ever make early classes. I had an 8am class once.. that was a mistake.”
#43: “There was a pie baking in the oven and it felt like everything was exactly as it should be. We were alone together, dancing in my living room and I wasn’t hiding anything or trying to behave a certain way. It was such a happy time that I’ll always cherish. Sometimes I put up a front, but in that moment, it didn’t exist and I felt free. We’re in different parts of our lives now. We understand that now isn’t a good time to have a healthy relationship together. We’re still close and I’m looking forward to the future and the opportunities we might be able to experience together again someday.”
#44: “Essentially we’re all the same, we’re all human and we all have vulnerabilities. While in Philadelphia, I met this guy from England who was traveling around the US. I realized I liked him a lot the first corny joke he made. I grabbed my friend and said ‘Did you hear that?’ We ended up developing this really strong connection really quickly. It’s easy for us to connect with each other because we have similar views of the world. We have these really strong feelings for each other and I guess we will just have to see how it plays out.”
#45: “She accepts me even when I’m a dumbass.”
#46: “I think connecting with someone means being able to open up to them. I feel the most connected to someone when all of our walls and guards are down and there’s nothing standing between us. Just raw intimate honesty. Not long after meeting one of my really good friends, we found out that we had been through the same tragedy not too long before that day. I found out his mom had passed away less than a year before mine did and that we had both experienced the same Earth-shattering nightmare. The walls around us completely fell down, and we were able to share deep and intimate feelings because we know the other will understand. His intimate honesty makes me feel less alone in this devastating and terrifying world.”
#47: “Normally, when I choose a friend, I try to find someone who has the same values as me, what kind of person they want to be and what kind of lifestyle they live. Sometimes when you meet someone, for some reason you feel very close. It’s like god created it and you’re not sure why. I would like to share my personal opinions with somebody that I feel close with.”
#48: “This is a really weird thing, but I cherish someones musical taste. I think music says a lot about someone because it is an intimate form of expression. If you really connect with music than that says a lot about yourself. There’s a lot of qualities that brought my boyfriend and I together, but I think it’s important that we connect over our musical outlets.”
#49: “I think lately being human is very structured. We are told to go to school and find our place but I don’t think that’s what being human is all about. It sounds cheesy but you have to find yourself. My idea of living is being happy and continuing to do what makes me happy. I study psychology and I love it. If I could sit here and read psychology textbooks all day, I would. I came into Stony Brook as pre-med, but after freshman year, everything weeded me out. I was so distraught ya know? What was I going to do with my life? I realized that med school wasn’t exactly going to make me happy anyways. In the end, everything worked out for the best. We get this idea that we may not be good enough, but we ARE good enough and maybe we just belong somewhere else.”
#50: “To be human is to be a brave man and to have passion. I would like to be passionate about everything that I like to do. I like to watch badminton and to play computer games. Is that a good answer? My favorite computer game is World of Warcraft”