A Connecticut man said he’s on a mission to make people see past negative stories associated with Hartford and instead see the humans in it.
Nick Cinea, the creator of Humans of Hartford, sat down with Eyewitness News and said he wanted to share people’s stories.
“I was inspired by Humans of New York,” he said. “I was going through a rough part of my life and I didn't have a direction.”
Cinea said one morning, he wanted to do photography.
“It's always been on the back burner, and I love ‘HONY,’ he said. “I wish I had thought of that first, so I have a city right here. Hartford.”
He’s been behind Humans of Hartford for more than two years.
“I remember my first day doing HOH, it was early March, a little chilly,” Cinea said.
He said he had his gear ready and went into the city. However, he froze up.
“I couldn't talk to anybody,” Cinea said. “I was so nervous about asking a stranger for a photo and after about two hours, finally this one guy Chris, he was the first person I took a photo of, he saw me just kind of standing around aimlessly with my camera, and he asked me what I was doing and I said ‘photography’ and he said ‘well you can take a photo of me.’ So that was the icebreaker right there and from that point on, I've been able to go up to people.”
He said he’s been telling people’s stories ever since.
“It's really just a gut feeling,” Cinea said. “Right away if someone makes eye contact with me and gives me a smile, that's definitely a good indicator that I can interview them.”
He said most people are receptive.
“Once in a while, you get a person who is a little skeptical, which is understandable, I'm a stranger to them [and they're a stranger to me,” Cinea said. “The main key when you approach them, especially a stranger, is to make them feel comfortable, right from the beginning.”
Cinea said he typically spends between 5 and 15 minutes with the average person.
“I moved to Hartford,” he said. “Hartford was the first city I lived in. We moved from Saudi Arabia. We moved 8 months ago.”
He has a following of more than 8,000 people.
He said he’s inspiring those around him by connecting faces with the issues.
“I think HOH has created this certain community engagement that you didn't get before,” Cinea said. “Social media allows people to become more aware and just the power of social media to like and share, it allows a story to just grow that much more.”
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