Humans Of Edinburgh

We all know that Edinburgh is filled with a variety of weird and wonderful people; and now they’re being documented on Facebook in a student-led photography project. Humans of Edinburgh, run by Zishan Ashraf, David Johnston, and Ollie Buchanan, has taken Facebook by storm. They’ve gathered over 30,000 followers with their tidbits of wisdom and intimate photography portraits, and Ollie spoke to us about their success.

He says that they were partially inspired by the photography project Humans of New York. “As far as I was concerned it was an injustice that it hadn’t been done in Edinburgh.”

There is certainly no shortage of subjects; the capital is filled with people from all walks of life, eager to tell their story. Ollie remembers a particular encounter that stuck with him; a girl painting in the gardens. “She said that selfishness isn’t always a bad thing, and sometimes you need to be selfish. And it hit me because it was really relevant to what was going on in my own life. She was probably the coolest person I’ve met doing this.”

Ollie admits that the project can be time-consuming; it takes up to half an hour to take each photograph and interview, and juggling it with his university commitments can be difficult. But he says it’s all worth it. “I can’t think of anything else I’d want to do more, whenever I leave uni – I love Humans of Edinburgh.”

And despite comparisons to Humans of New York, HofE has evolved into something that’s uniquely Scottish and quite different. Ollie agrees. “I’m not HONY and what I do is not in any way mimicking him.  I wouldn’t be here without what he does, but we’re not the same project. For me to do this properly, I can’t be trying to do what other people do.”

And, like the subjects he photographs, Ollie has some of his own inspiring words to share. His advice to students struggling to balance their work with personal projects is simple. “Just get up early, and work hard. Fully commit; you can do anything you want so long as you fully set your mind on it.”

If the success of HofE can be attributed to early rising, we might just have to set our own alarm clocks. This photography project is a great example of student creativity and passion, and we’re eager to see what the boys do next.

(Photo credit – Ollie Buchanan)

Article reproduced here was published in print by The University Paper Edinburgh (December 2014)

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