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Humans of Minneapolis: The stories all around us

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'Humans of Minneapolis' by Stephanie Glaros
'Humans of Minneapolis' by Stephanie Glaros
Courtesy of Stephanie Glaros

For years, Stephanie Glaros took the same route to work, walking from Minneapolis's Warehouse District to the corner of 12th and Hennepin.

She walked past skyscrapers, a homeless shelter, the Greyhound bus station.

And she would see the same people, every day.

As an avid photographer, she carried her camera with her at all times, and she began to wonder about the stories of the people she was passing. So she began to take their pictures — and ask about their lives.

That practice became her blog, Humans of Minneapolis. Many of her portraits are now featured in a book of the same name.

The name is a nod to Humans of New York, the phenomenally popular project of that documents the lives of random people on the street in New York City. Eighteen million people now follow HONY on Facebook.

Glaros joined MPR News host Tom Weber to explain her own process, and how she picks her subjects.

She said when she sees someone on the street and wants to take their picture, "I have a checklist I go through in my head, trying to determine where the person is at right now. Are they in a hurry? Do they seem distracted? Do they seem closed off? Or, do they seem maybe a little open? Maybe not in a rush? Can I get eye contact with them?

"It's more a sense of openness and instinct on my part: Who might be open to talking to me right now?" Glaros said.

As is evident on her website and in her book, people are willing to share a surprising amount of information with a stranger on the street. One man shared the story of how he came out as gay to his wife. A young, black woman studying theater explained how it felt to not be considered for roles due to her skin color.

"I'm often surprised at how quickly we can get there," Glaros said, of people opening up to her. "Sometimes it's 30 seconds, sometimes it's a couple minutes."

After talking to hundreds of people for her project, she said, "I'm always interested in the things we share in common. I think I've really learned something about people and the needs we have as human beings that I didn't realize. I didn't realize how important it is for people to be able to be themselves, and have the opportunity and the freedom to shed whatever social masks we wear throughout the day and just be themselves."

For the full interview with Stephanie Glaros on "Humans of Minneapolis," use the audio player above. Several portraits from her book are below.