by now you’ve undoubtedly heard of humans of new york, the photography blog that has quite literally taken the world by storm. through his matter of fact photos and the simple, poignant quotes that go along with them, brandon stanton has captured hearts both with his camera, and with his unique blog, a mix of street style and story telling. HONY has inspired dozens of like-minded blogs and communities around the world from berlin, leuvan and paris to islamabad, tehran, brisbane, and karachi — it’s more than likely that you’ll find a version of the “humans of” concept in your own city. such is how i came upon portraits de montreal, the version montrealaise of humans of new york run by thibault carron, samuel rocheleau, and mikael theimer.
much like my own work with littlecity, portraits de montreal aims to give a voice to the people of montreal and to encourage communication within our community. thibault calls it breaking barriers between strangers. “we want to show people that it’s easy to engage a conversation with anyone, and that everybody has a great story to share,” thibault explains when i ask about their goals for the project. they’ve only been working on the portraits de montreal concept for a little over three months, but the idea is clearly well-loved already. their facebook page has amassed more than 13 000 followers in its short life.
none of the portraits de montreal founders was formally trained in photography. “all three of us have a different background. i used to work in finance (watching over stock brokers), mikaël in advertising, and samuel in a small production company as a cinematographer,” thibault continues, “we quit our jobs at the same time to follow our own creativity.” their story is inspiring to say the least, but it’s the stories they capture through their photographs that embolden and provoke. the process itself is (as thibault describes it) completely random: working separately, thibault, samuel and mikael choose their subjects and ask questions that quickly develop into interesting conversations. “tt’s all about being curious,” says thibault, “the key is really to approach them with our most beautiful smile, and show them that we’re just here to listen and talk; nothing else.” it works — their subjects have reflected on everything from the moment they’ve laughed the most in their lives, to the thing they’re most proud of, or something they’re struggling with. like with HONY, the most poignant part of the project is perhaps not the photographs, but the stories they tell and the moments they capture.
“someone that really made an impression on us recently was a guy who told us about the two times god talked to him,” thibault replies thoughtfully when i ask him who has been the most interesting human so far. “he said that god asked him to relay a message to humanity.”
“there was also a 92 year old war veteran who, disgusted by what the nazis were doing in europe, decided to participate in the operation overlord during world war II as a bomber,” he continues. the photo (above) is decidedly stoic. although the man in question didn’t want his picture taken, the photo is the perfect representation to go along with his moving story.
finally, in the words of brandon stanton, i ask thibault what he, samuel, and mikael want to be when they grow up. thibault’s answer could be its own portrait of montreal: “we’ll try to become the best human beings we can be.”