Inspired by Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York, Ramapo students have recently created their own portrait collection series, capturing the lives of Ramapo students around campus through photos and posting them on Instagram and Facebook.
“I was inspired by my curiosity of people. So many stories, interests and dreams all in this tiny part of earth,” Lawrence James Hickmon, co-creator of Humans of Ramapo, said. “They will all go out and shape our society, somehow we must know who they are.”
For those unfamiliar, the original Humans of New York blog started in 2010 with the goal of creating a “catalogue of New York City’s inhabitants.” Capturing the life of a complete stranger with just a portrait and a quote may seem like an impossible feat, but Stanton has risen to the occasion. Growing into a successful blog with over eight million followers across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr, the vibrant and often touching photos depicting New Yorkers have also been transformed into a New York Times best-selling book.
“After I lost my trading job, I decided to move to New York City and take portraits of strangers on the street,” Stanton stated on the Humans of New York website. “Mom wasn’t too happy about that decision, but so far it’s gone pretty well. I’ve taken nearly 5,000 portraits and written 50 stories. And I’ve met some amazing people along the way.”
Following in Stanton’s footsteps, Humans of Ramapo also aims to capture a community of people, but of a very different demographic than its New York City predecessor.
“This is a look into our community. We're all away from home, building relationships for a lifetime. We're all here because we're curious in some form or fashion, right? I hope people share that same curiosity we have about the faces we see day in and day out,” Hickmon said. “It's an icebreaker; you can dream, vent, love and just be you to the community. It gives people a voice. We're here for all of that, anything you have to say … we're listening and you're important.”
Ryan McGilloway, the other co-creator of Humans of Ramapo, feels that the project is a way for people to get to know each other on campus.
“With Humans of New York you often see something interesting, but it could be less relatable. With us, you might see a person we highlight on campus every day – or you might have similar problems or loves about something here at Ramapo. It's very accessible and helps build community,” McGilloway said.
Choosing their subjects randomly, both Hickmon and McGilloway take well-thought-out portraits and post it with a quote.
“My role is to go out there, either by myself or with one of the other contributors and find someone we think has a story to tell,” McGilloway said. “Often they don't know they do until we ask, but that's what's so great about Humans of Ramapo. People end up discovering new things about themselves.”
Those interested in learning more can follow Humans of Ramapo on Facebook or on Instagram at humans_of_ramapo.