1. A group of five students from Oxford university have come together to create a Humans of Oxford Facebook page, dedicated to photographing people around the city and asking them to say something about various topics.
Martin Woolley (pictured) was asked how he maintains his enthusiasm. He said: “It’s the f*cking sugar. We inhale it. Plus it helps that we’re all crazy in here. It’s like a zoo.”
2. The twenty-something students all read at Wadham College and are either finalists or graduate next year. They were inspired by the original Humans of New York photoblog and launched their version in March.
The man above told Humans of Oxford: “I used to be a professional footballer but I lost my contract when I was 18 because of a leg injury. I was told I would never be able to play football again. I stumbled upon this when I was at the job centre. I’ve been doing it for 2 years and never looked back.”
3. Nathalie Wright, one of the organisers, told BuzzFeed that the team has learned a lot since launching the project.
We went into it not really knowing what to expect and it became a lot more popular a lot quicker than we thought. It’s funny how some photos get so much popularity and it’s really interesting to see which will become so popular.
4. Wright said that at least two images had been particularly successful. The first, posted on 21 May, was of a shopkeeper who previously lived in Afghanistan.
The man above said: “I was born and raised in Afghanistan but had to move to India because of the war. Then I moved to Russia for ten years, and after that I came here, to the UK.
“You might not know it but Afghanistan is a really beautiful place. Sometimes I look at photos of the North where I was born, and it gets me so emotional, I cry.”
5. The second was a photograph of Tom de Wilton, studying for a Doctorate in Philosophy, who told Humans of Oxford that he was debating of whether to come back and finish his degree or build a treehouse in Thailand.
He said: “I just got back from building a treehouse on an Eco resort in Thailand. People keep asking what my ‘plan’ is now I’m home. I’m deciding whether to stick to my original idea, of coming back to Oxford for a Dphil in Biomedical Engineering…
“Or to start my own business and travel the world as a professional treehouse builder. I’m thinking maybe both. I figure there’s no rush to start the rest of my life.”
6. Wright told BuzzFeed that although the students started by contacting people they thought might be interesting, they soon gained confidence and started to ask people in the street to take part.
Dave Watson (pictured) said: “I want to join a gay circus in Sweden. Contact me by following the trail of glitter and fire.”
7. Now they’ve gained confidence and are happy to walk around the streets of Oxford with their DSLRs and ask people to take part.
The man above told Humans of Oxford: “I’m writing a political satire. It’s quite funny.”
8. But the students are careful in their approach and tend to approach people individually rather than in a big group. “Normally we just go up to talk to people first rather than just pouncing on them,” Wright told BuzzFeed.
Josie Dyster said: “We name all our boats after famous feminists. Can you see what this one’s called?”
9. The Facebook page now has almost 4,000 likes but the group don’t have any major goals. Instead Wright said: “We want to keep going, build the popularity, build the momentum and get people talking.”
This woman said: “I used to work with disabled kids and all, but when me and my husband split up, and my little girl died, I come down here, and I liked it so I stayed. I was homeless in Oxford for ten years: I lived in a tent down Botley way. It’s not so bad in the winter, you get the tent all set up and that with all your stuff inside and it’s quite warm.
“But it’s horrid when it’s raining. Me and my mate didn’t want to go into a centre, it’s full of people on drugs and that, drinking, fighting, it’s not a nice place to be. They steal all your stuff. So we buy a big house tent and set that up instead.”
10. And for those who hope to get spotted by the students, Wright said there were no particularly tips. “It’s really just luck, being in the right place at the right time,” she said.
The photographer above said: “Why do I take pictures? Well, you see there are so many interesting looking people around Oxford. I wanted a way to make people see what I see.
“It could be someone’s hat, the wrinkles around someone’s eyes… It’s a form of social documentary.”
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