By Caroline LeCour
After a brief hiatus, the club Humans of UConn is up and running yet again. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, team president Brendan Hogan said he envisions more in-house maintenance rather than just photography this year.
Hogan, a seventh-semester political science, psychology and philosophy major, explains that his goal for the rest of the fall and spring semester is to work on creating a solid group of photographers also inspired by the same work the group is pursuing.
“I think the incentive to join a club that’s really unofficial like this and not really like on record or has a lot of membership, the incentive is kind of low,” said Hogan. “I think that was the goal of this semester. I think next semester we’re going to be expanding to try to reach out to the community, find different ways to connect over, like Zoom, Webex, virtual meetings.”
Based out of The University of Connecticut, Humans of UConn aims to photograph random students on campus and interview them on the spot, giving a quick glimpse into the interviewee’s life. Below is their latest post.
“Humans of UConn provides that opportunity to reach out to individuals and interview them and just talk to them and see from their perspective what’s going on in their life,” said Hogan. “I think that’s the golden ticket to breaking down that wall.”
According to Hogan, the current team consists of 11 photographers, ranging from sophomores to seniors. As of just recently however, Humans of UConn was not considered an official club which in turn stunted the team’s progress with their project.
With the drive to instill Humans of UConn as a real club on campus, the team has already started to work on gaining an academic advisor, keeping club meetings consistent and even officiating their club as a Tier-II organization with goals of possibly attending the annual Involvement Fair.
Hogan first got his start with Humans of UConn after a professor guided him toward two other photographers on campus who were in dire need to pass on the club to a younger member. Below is one of the club’s first posts showing Hogan in 2018 with fellow team members Molly Barnett and Maggie Cayangyang.
“They basically gave me the passwords to the Instagram account, Facebook account and they were like ‘Here you go. We’re not a club, but we kind of just do this on our own time. It’s like we’re unofficially a club for UConn,'” he said. “And then I was like, oh crap, I’m going to be all on myself. I gotta figure this out.”
Hogan also disclosed that his love for photography stems from his childhood and was passed down from his grandfather, where Hogan also realized his need for prescription glasses.
“Sometimes if we were on vacation, he let me use his camera for a little bit or I would just get to watch him…I didn’t realize it, but I needed glasses so everything was kind of blurry to me,” Hogan said. “When I took a picture through the camera, everything suddenly became so crisp and clear. I thought it was the coolest thing. I was so amazed by the camera because it changed everything.”
After asking for a camera for his birthday, Hogan then became more and more involved with photography which then led him to have a hand in Humans of UConn.
As for dealing with the issue of doing photography during COVID-19, Hogan explained that the team’s current focus is interviewing students in each team member’s social circles.
“One of the biggest things was our club was built off talking to strangers and now with COVID that’s a lot harder,” he said. “We’ve gone virtual so a lot of the interviews that you’ve seen, starting at the beginning of this year since August, have actually been through Webex or Zoom where we interview somebody we know.”
For future projects, Humans of UConn is planning on staying constant with the possibility of a published portfolio or even a collaboration with the William Benton Museum but encourages anyone thinking of joining to not be intimidated by a heavy commitment. Unlike Humans of New York, a popular Instagram account that the club models, Humans of UConn is a lot more laid back.
“I think that’s the beauty behind humans to UConn and humans in New York because it’s really not that involved,” he said. “For Brandon [Stanton], the creator of Humans of New York, he’s gonna have that ability to create those books and publish those books and things like that where we’re kind of just coming here for four years and figuring out what we can do to keep this thing consistent.”
If you would like to become involved in Humans of UConn, you can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.