I have always been interested in photography and meeting new people. Many moons ago I was a Policeman and so meeting new people and talking to them was an essential factor in my job. There is no room to be shy as a police officer.
I am from Australia and have lived in Kristiansand since 2005. My Norwegian wife and I have three children, a dog, cat and two guinea pigs. You could say it is a full house.
Humans of New York
Sometime in January this year, I noticed that a friend liked a photo on Humans of New York on facebook. I checked out the page and instantly loved it. What a great idea to take pictures of everyday people in the street and get a story from them. I thought to myself, this is something I can do here in Kristiansand.
The following day, my family and I went to Hovden for a long weekend skiing. On the first night I could not sleep thinking about it, so I got out of bed and registered the Humans of Kristiansand (HoK) domain name http://www.humansofkristiansand.com (new and updated website coming soon) and the facebook group https://www.facebook.com/humansofkristiansand. I was determined to start the same in Kristiansand.
The project begins
This is the HoK logo I designed from a picture I took of my wife and son walking on the frozen water into Kristiansand.
The next Monday I bought a hoodie and got Humans of Kristiansand printed on it and the same day I started to take pictures of people. I had no idea how people would react.
On that first day I took many pictures and interviewed a girl that was born at a train station, a woman that found a tombstone under her house when they were renovating and an old man telling me how beautiful Kristiansand is. Wow I thought.
Approximately ten hours after I started the project, I got a phone call from a local paper that wanted to interview me as I took pictures of people. That was amazing!
Everyone has a story and I personally am sick of reading about famous people with the same old »crap» every time. Celebrities with new haircuts, boob jobs, you name it. BORING! I want to hear from real people.
That being said, I promised myself that if I bumped into a celebrity in the street I would also ask for a personal story. Just like I did here…
You can read that Humans of Kristiansand interview here.
There is a Humans of… in almost every major city around the world and the second week after I started it, I took a picture of a man that was also going to start the same here in Kristiansand. I was lucky I started it when I did.
I try and post at least one picture every day as a minimum, but usually there are two new pictures and stories every day. I want to keep the audience interested but not over loaded with pictures.
Some stories I get from people I cannot write about because they are too personal. Two examples are a woman whose husband went undercover in Russia to gather intelligence for the Norwegian Government and another woman who had been raped. I feel privileged to get these stories and speak to these people that open up to me. In return, I open up to them and tell them very personal things about myself.
Sometimes the stories are so involved, it is impossible to shorten them for an quick and easy read. Here is a picture of a man that gave me a fascinating and long story dating back to World War 2.
You can read that Humans of Kristiansand interview here.
I also have an IT background where I design websites, logos and do SEO (search engine optimisation) for clients as well as running my own personal and free tourism information about Kristiansand www.kristiansand-norway.com.
This experience lead to a job at Visit Sørlandet as a Content Manager for our key accounts in the Lister region. I started it in February this year (2014).
When I was interviewed by the Visit Sørlandet General Manager Heidi Sørvig, I explained that the Humans of Kristiansand project was very important to me because I felt that it was good for Kristiansand. We live in a beautiful city with great people and their stories need to be told.
She agreed and felt that it could be a part of my job. PERFECT I thought. People visiting the city can follow the page and get a sense of what the locals in Kristiansand are like. Who knows, they may even meet some of them in the street.
My knowledge about Kristiansand has dramatically improved since starting this project. Granted I have lived here for over 10 years now, but speaking to people who tell me about the city’s history and their involvement in it, has broadened this knowledge.
Still going strong
Now eight months later, I am still walking the streets of Kristiansand interviewing people and getting their stories. My photography has improved and I have made some new friends along the way. Currently the group has over 4100 likes and some stories are viewed by over 10,000 people. Not bad for a small city like Kristiansand!
As per every other Humans of… around the world, they are in English which suits me fine! I guess you could say that I can speak 80% Norwegian and type about the same, so to get this blog 100% correct, it is in English.
A lot of people ask me what my favourite story is and the answer is that I do not have one, because every story is special in its own way. I really enjoy speaking to the older generation though because they have lived long lives which are full of interesting stories. Unfortunately it is difficult to get a picture and story from them as they are very cautious about giving out information. This is a good thing, but does make my job a little harder. A few times older folk have said »If it is not in Fædrelandsvennen, (one of the local newspapers) then I do not want me picture taken!»
One man I did not get to interview was a Norwegian double agent named Gunvar Tomstad. During the Second World War, he transmitted vital information to the British intelligence from his farm in Flekkefjord. I spoke to his son who gave me the story and also sent some pictures to me that have never been seen by the public before. That was special.
People are important, as are their stories.
Adam J Read – Content Manager Visit Sørlandet email@example.com
ps – I have not updated the HoK website for quite some time as I plan to design a new one, so apologies for that!