SNAP­SHOTS OF WHO WE ARE

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Residential - Lucy Jarvis

A GIFT from his wife in­spired Ja­son Miller to step out of his com­fort zone and start speak­ing to strangers.

Mr Miller said she gave him a copy of Bran­don Stan­ton’s book Hu­mans of New York last De­cem­ber.

A week late, he set up a sim­i­lar Face­book page for Perth, with­out re­al­is­ing there was al­ready one for WA run by Stu­art Holden, and started talk­ing to peo­ple in the city dur­ing his lunch breaks.

The IT ad­min­is­tra­tor said he got a cam­era from a friend when he moved to Perth seven years ago from New Mex­ico in the US.

“I was struck by the di­ver­sity of Perth,” he said.

“I would take pic­tures of peo­ple I found in­ter­est­ing (but) I was too scared to go up to them and ask them any­thing.”

Ini­tially for Hu­mans of Perth, Mr Miller would try to get as many pho­tos as he could, but then started talk­ing to peo­ple for longer.

He said the project, which has at­tracted more than 23,000 likes, in­volved “ran­dom in­ter­ac­tions with strangers” rather than pre-or­gan­ised in­ter­views.

“It’s very ‘judg­ing a book by its cover’ – I just go up to them and say ‘I find you in­ter­est­ing’,” he said.

“The best ques­tion I ask at the mo­ment is ‘what’s your cur­rent strug­gle?’ It shows our hu­man­ity; it shows how we all go through ups and downs.

“I ask dif­fer­ent ques­tions, like ‘what’s your hap­pi­est mo­ment in your life?’

“Peo­ple will be open – I’m just re­ally touched that they all share.”

Mr Miller said at first he was afraid of re­jec­tion, but soon found there were plenty of other peo­ple will­ing to talk if some­one said ‘no’.

“Buskers are the best – they are the ones that want the at­ten­tion,” he said.

Mr Miller said he fo­cused on down­town parts of the CBD or al­ley­ways, as well as Mur­ray and Hay streets, and had oc­ca­sion­ally found sub­jects around Hil­larys Ma­rina.

Although he might want to find out why some­one is us­ing a wheel­chair or has tat­toos cov­er­ing their face, he said peo­ple who looked “com­pletely or­di­nary” sur­prised him with their sto­ries too.

One was a woman (pic­tured) do­ing char­ity work, who after find­ing out what he was do­ing, asked why didn’t he do a post on her, so he asked how she got into the job. She told him she had been com­pelled to act after see­ing a baby die in her trav­els in Asia.

Mr Miller said he did not take peo­ple’s names, and oc­ca­sion­ally would post pho­tos that did not show their faces, if re­quested.

Some­times it was to high­light some­thing un­usual in their ap­pear­ance, such as one man’s pur­ple socks.

The fa­ther-of-one said he was glad he could re­veal peo­ple with beau­ti­ful sto­ries to Perth be­cause he did not want them to be for­got­ten.

Ja­son Miller started the Hu­mans of Perth Face­book page.

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