Connecting a campus, one shutter click at a time

Ever wonder who the thousands of other TRU students are? “Humans of TRU” will show you

The Humans of TRU Facebook page has been active for just 12 days since its creation on Oct. 10, and is already seeing a strong following. With just under 700 likes, Eric Rankin, a second-year psychology student, at first had little expectation that Humans of TRU would be anything more than a portfolio for his photography.

“It’s just blown up so fast, like initially it was just to expand my portfolio. Honestly, I’m kind of curious about my classmates. Sometimes I just walk in and wonder what a person has to say, so it’s a way to get to know the students and a way for students to get to know their fellow students.”

Humans of New York is the original photo blog created in 2010 by Brandon Stanton, initially to share the diverse population that inhabits New York City. Since then, Humans of New York has changed to a worldwide focus, and others have begun similar photo blogs for their cities.

“One thing I’ve noticed about TRU is that we’re pretty diverse, and have students from all over the world,” Rankin said. The description of the Facebook page reads, “Connecting the students of Thompson Rivers University one photo at a time.”

"Humans of TRU" photographer Eric Rankin. (Ashley Wadwhani/The Omega)

“Humans of TRU” photographer Eric Rankin. (Ashley Wadhwani/The Omega)

With support from his close friends, Rankin launched the page including short tidbits of his friends with a photo he took of them on campus with his Nikon D3200. The self-taught photographer has now posted 15 entries and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

Rankin, who called himself an introvert, has always had a particular interest in people, but finds talking to strangers a challenge.

“Taking a picture can be kind of intimate – it’s your picture and you have something to say, and tons of people are going to see this, so I’m trying to make it as least awkward as possible with me being awkward to begin with,” Rankin said.

As Rankin develops confidence in his interviewing skills, he recalls his first interview with a group of strangers to have been the most awkward experience so far. Feeling nervous about the initial approaching of the students, Rankin began to talk himself out of pursuing the project. His friend felt all he needed was a little push.

“[My friend] walks over and is like, ‘Hey can my friend take a picture of you guys? He’s doing this Humans of TRU thing and is too scared to ask his first stranger.’ He totally embarrasses me like right there,” Rankin said.

After the embarrassment passed, Rankin took their picture and asked them his questions. Wanting to work on his conversational skills, Rankin has also faced the challenge of the business of midterm season where students don’t have time to chat.

“The first ones were pretty dry,” Rankin said. He added that his interview with Jordan Bloomfield, a fourth-year social work student, was his first in-depth interview. Bloomfield was sitting outside of the IB Building when Rankin approached him and asked the question, “Who inspires you?”

Bloomfield answered, “I’m studying social work specializing in international social work, so I like to think big. I would say Nelson Mandela, Shane Koyczan, and Shane Claiborne,” according to the Facebook post Rankin wrote on Oct.16.

Rankin has yet to be rejected by someone not interested in participating, but recognizes that it’s bound to happen. Keeping his expectations low has led to him feeling shocked by TRU’s response.

“We have thousands of people on campus. If someone doesn’t want their picture taken, it’s cool,” Rankin said.

Rankin hasn’t decided whether he will open up to the broader area of Kamloops, as he balances his full course load and work while trying to remain consistent with his posting.