A new Facebook page and online portfolio called Humans of Wallingford shines a spotlight on a diverse cast of characters from all corners of the neighborhood. The project, Humans of Wallingford (a local spinoff of the popular Humans of New York), is the creation of neighborhood photographer Tricia Enfield.
If you spend any time walking around the 45th Street business corridor, on the Humans of Wallingford page I suspect you will find portraits and quotes from people you’ve seen around the neighborhood and perhaps even wondered about.
Humans of Wallingford gives you a chance to learn about and learn from a wide variety of diverse individuals that make up our neighborhood.
Tricia Enfield told me more about this fascinating project and her effort to document the human stories that surround us all:
What was your inspiration for starting Humans of Wallingford?
I decided to do a personal photography project for 2016 that involved taking pictures of people I don’t know. It was going to be 52 portraits of 52 strangers who, like me, have a connection to Wallingford. I wasn’t really sure how it would end up, or how I would share it with people. After I got going, a number of friends suggested I call it Humans of Wallingford, and there you go. It turned into something a bit different.
How long have you lived in the neighborhood?
Where else have you lived?
I grew up in Seattle. I’ve also lived (or spent a lot of time) in Boston, Austin TX, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Lansing MI, and Vienna VA.
And how does Wallingford compare to the other places you’ve lived?
Wallingford, like many of those other places, has lots of interesting people. Wallingford is a great place to live because of the laid-back city living in a place with a strong sense of community and “neighborhoodiness.”
How do you choose people that you want to photograph and interview? What qualities do you look for?
Most of the time, I just choose people who I find interesting.
Is there anyone that is “off-limits” or you wouldn’t feel comfortable approaching?
So far, no.
Is there a person that you’ve been meaning to photograph but has proved too elusive?
I’d like to photograph Dave Matthews. If he will let me photograph him, I’d like to do it at the end of 2016. Sort of like a grand finale.
Your project is very new and I am already struck by the diversity of people you’ve featured. Tell me about your thought process behind this diversity and how you select individuals.
I just take my camera and go walk around. We have a lot of diversity in Wallingford, and that’s something I like. So, that’s something that shows up in my photos.
Do you explain the project before taking any photos? And how do you describe your project to the people you photograph?
I introduce myself and say that I’m a photographer from Wallingford. I say that I like to take photos of people I meet, and ask if I can take a photo for my project. If I have my Instax printer, I’ll make them a print to keep.
Photo descriptions sometimes have quotes and other times have your own descriptions. What types of questions do you ask to generate quotes?
I just start a conversation. “Where do you live? What do you like to do? Where are you from? What are you doing today?” I’m working a bit on my interview skills. I’m new to it.
What do you think the future holds for this project?
I’ll photograph through the end of 2016 and then decide what’s next. I hope that it’s something I can do for years to come. I’m also interested in having some sort of show, maybe were I can print some favorites and put them up for people to see.
Do you have plans to expand beyond Wallingford?
Not now. But, I will include people from surrounding neighborhoods, if I’m out and about. But who knows about expanding, maybe later!
Let’s get technical, for a moment, for the aspiring photographers. Canon or Nikon?
Preferred lens style and focal length for street-level portrait work?
I use a 35mm for street and sometimes a 16mm for inside stores or tight places. I have a crop sensor, so that’s a 50mm and 23mm equivalent.
Auto, I usually let my camera decide.
What is one camera accessory that you’d never leave home without?
My favorite accessory, which is sometimes left behind, is my Fuji Instax printer. I can wirelessly connect my camera to the printer and print a little polaroid-like print for people. It’s really fun. The thing I never leave behind, though, is my camera bag. It’s an ONA Bowery bag, and it’s pretty cool.
Let’s end with something a little more personal. Describe your “perfect day” in Wallingford (i.e. Where would you eat? Where might you shop? Where would you walk around with your camera? Where would you relax? Who would you want to meet?, etc.)
My perfect day would include a lot of hanging out with my family. I’m married and have three kids ages 13, 10, and 3. We would probably hit Meridian Park and then go get ice cream at Fainting Goat. We have so much good food to choose from – Jhanjay, Harvest Beat, Eltana are some favorites. Chocolati is my favorite for coffee (um, chocolate). We do a lot of shopping at Kids on 45th! If I had some alone time, I’d head to coffee with a good book or a good friend, or I’d take my camera and start at QFC. Who knows what would be next!
Who are your favorite neighborhood characters? Leave a comment and share something about your favorite humans. Everyone has a story.