WHEN PETER VARGA started Humans of Dublin, it was just meant to be a small-term project for the photography course he had started.
18 months on, he has no plans to stop photographing pictures of Dubliners and sharing their stories with the world. The project has helped Varga make a name for himself but more than that, he says it has changed his perspective on life and helped him appreciate how important human connections are.
“After talking to almost 1,500 people, it’s clarifying what happiness is really about,” he told TheJournal.ie.
“When you ask people what they like most about their job, they talk about the community, the people, not actually about the job but to connect with people and have fun. It’s not about the money either.”
Varga said favourite tales have come from the older people he has spoken to, though he finds it hard to choose just one to share as they have so many. Among the stories he cherishes most is that of Bill, pictured above, who spoke of his loneliness after the death of his wife:
A few months later my neighbours arrived with a box of tomato plants, about 12 little sprouts, and he said they’re not giving up on me. I was looking down at these little sprouts and thinking how the hell I’m going to plant them if I can’t even bend down anymore. Anyway, I thought I’d give it a try! I spend half the day in the glasshouse planting them. They’re about 16 inches high now, and the tomatoes are beautiful on them. I started to grow these new ones as well, what do you call them? Cherry tomatoes…To be honest with you, I didn’t think I’d see Dun Laoghaire harbour again, but my son and his wife forced me out here. They went for a walk, but they bought me a tea and an ice cream, and now that I’m here, I feel happy.
The photographer will be speaking at the Student Summit next week and his focus will be on the need for people to connect with one another, in the real world as well as the digital one.
“Because of the digital age, we’re losing real human connection. I’d like to focus on empathy, get people out of their shoes and put them into other people’s shoes,” he said.
“The page is focused on empathy and it’s something that people have to practice now.”