Florence photography project shows we are all the same

From SCNow.com:

FLORENCE, S.C. — Florence is made up of wonderful, unique people, and everyone has a story to tell. Photographers Robin Eaddy Condrey and Harley Pinto-Williams recently set out to tell those stories through a new photography project called “Humans of Florence.”

Inspired by a Facebook page that documents the stories of people living in New York, Eaddy Condrey and Pinto-Williams began seeking subjects closer to home.

“We were just talking about the ‘Humans of New York’ Facebook page, and we were like, ‘Oh, did you see this post today? Did you see that post?’ We were talking about it all the time,” Pinto-Williams said. “We were just like, ‘We need to start doing this in Florence.’ We both just felt it at the same time.”

“It was almost one of those, ‘Jinx, you-owe-me-a-Coke moments,’” Eaddy Condrey added. “We went out the very next day looking for people.”

(Visit the Humans of Florence Facebook page for more information and photos.)

Both of the women are artists, and Eaddy Condrey said that for her, a camera is simply another tool that she uses to express herself artistically.

“I’ve had a camera in my hands since my mom gave me her brownie camera when I was 6,” Eaddy Condrey said. “I have been taking portraits of everything ever since. In 2002, I started doing photography for a living. In 2010, I put the name Foto Flo on it to honor my town, the town I grew up in.”

Pinto-Williams said that she is not a native of Florence, but she is appreciative of the history and stories of the town and its citizens.

“For me, this project is offering people even more ways to be proud of being a Florence resident,” Pinto-Williams said. “People, with anywhere they live, will say, ‘Oh, I hate this town. It is so small,’ and all these other flaws. But there are so many beautiful and incredible things, like small projects, people and businesses, if you just widen your scope and zoom in.”

Pinto-Williams said she hopes the project will inspire people to get out and explore the place they live.

“We want people to see that they live in an amazing community,” Pinto-Williams said. “We can also offer them things that they might not have known about that they might be interested in, like Keep Florence Beautiful, and they might want to be a part of it and volunteer. It is a great way for people to see all of the beautiful aspects of their community and want to contribute.”

The project is also about showing people that even in their imperfections, or the moments in their lives that are less than ideal, there is beauty, Eaddy Condrey said.

“I’ve never had body-image issues,” Eaddy Condrey said. “But I know that there are a lot of women who struggle with that. This is really about changing the way that people view themselves. We don’t want those people who are going to go put on their makeup or something. We want the rawness of who they are, not who they can make themselves to be. I want to show people that the way they are is beautiful.”

With more than 800 likes on their page since it was started, Pinto-Williams said she believes people understand what they are trying to do and appreciate it.

“I think people have been responding really well, because it is raw,” Pinto-Williams said. “It is like this is where they are from, this is who they are, and maybe they could be on there one day.”

And though the project is still in its infancy, Eaddy Condrey and Pinto-Williams said they are already looking in to ways to fund more aspects of their venture, including the possibility of a book of pictures and stories.

“The sky is not even the limit,” Eaddy Condrey said. “I see art in every person, in everything.”

Images: Humans of Florence