Interview with Krank.ie

We sat down with for and interview with Amanda from Krank.ie. The text from the interview is below or you can ‘Click Here’ to read the interview on the Krank.ie website.

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Ireland is in a state of unrest at the moment. There is, it seems, not a lot to be happy about.  In times such as these, projects like “Humans of Ireland” serve as a welcome reminder of human commonality, highlighting real aspects of modern Irish lives.

Inspired by the “Humans of New York” project, the Humans of Ireland  Facebook page has gained over 8,000 likes in just under a month.  I sat down with Lee Furlong and Killian O’Sullivan, the creatives behind the project, to chat about their pursuit and the motivation behind it.

Killian and Lee have previously worked together creatively on other projects and decided to join forces once more to bring this project to life.  “It’s nice to have someone I can share ideas and concepts with.  I love New York anyway and it’s one of those places – I’d live there in a heartbeat if I could”, says Killian, referencing the project’s American predecessor.  Both are quick to deflect any praise for the idea, giving credit where it is due. “Thanks for the compliments about the idea, its not ours though.”

It was the stories attached to the Humans of New York photo catalogue, however, that really caught the guys’ attention and they felt that they could do something similar with a page for Ireland.  Lee is a full-time photographer and has been doing street photography for a while now, but from a distance.  This new venture is slightly different.  “This is a whole different ball game; it’s walking up to someone on the street and asking can I take your picture and this is what it’s for.  I wanted to do a street photography project.  We were going to do a Humans of Dublin one but we both do a bit of travelling with our work, so we decided to expand on it,” says Lee.

Do the guys find it tough to approach people and ask them for permission to take their picture? “It’s all about how you approach.  I need to be in the mood for it,” replies Killian.  “You have to ask them straight up if you can take their photo and, if they say no, you just need to walk on.  Sometimes they then ask what it’s for and you sometimes end up having the longest conversation with those people.”   For Lee it’s the rudeness that he dislikes the most: “A bad reaction is when someone just walks by me on the street. These days I’m getting less and less nos from people though.  Sometimes it can be easy to get the stories from people, but difficult to the get the photo from them.  I came across a guy with a massive dumbbell in a park who was about 60 and I really wanted to take his photo but he wouldn’t let me. I was going mad for the rest of the day.”  One thing they both agree on is that there is no rulebook for what they are doing  – it’s all trial and error.

As well as photographing their subjects, the pair pose a variety of questions to those featured in the project, ranging from “what was your worst first date?” to “what is your happiest memory?”  I was interested to learn how Killian and Lee decide on these questions.  Once more, they have taken inspiration from Humans of New York.  “Brandon from the Humans of New York has it down to a fine tee, and we use some of his [questions]. The thing is, people are nosey, they want to hear those stories and to get those stories you have to ask those questions,” says Lee.  It can be difficult sometimes to get people talking though, which is when prepared questions come in handy, interjects Killian.  “If you know what sort of response you want, you can gear your questions towards that.  Sometimes you can be asking questions forever and get nothing.”  I ask them which question people usually have the most trouble answering. “What has been the happiest moment of your life?” they inform me.

Dublin is a busy, bustling city; where do Killian and Lee find their willing participants?  “We find our people on the street.  It’s about knowing people,” says Killian.  “If someone is walking past with a determined walk, let them walk past – they obviously don’t want to be interrupted.”  It’s all about reading people and not being afraid of rejection.  Strangely enough, they both agree that somewhere off the beaten track usually fares better than high traffic areas in providing willing participants.  “People are conscious when getting their photo taken.  If you have a quieter area then people are going to say yes a lot easier.”  Ideally, the pair would like to get to the stage where enough people know about the project that, when they stop people on the street, it’s already familiar to them. Both feel it would make things a lot easier and make people more agreeable.

Do they ever find people approaching them to get their photo taken and, if so, do they accept?  Killian is not keen on the idea. “I think the mantra is, if you ask you don’t get“.  That’s how Brandon [Humans of New York] works.”  For the Irish pair it’s all about the stories, and Lee reckons anyone who approaches them first would have theirs rehearsed.  “It would be too constructed; the best stories come from off the cuff.”

Working on the Humans of Ireland project has taught both Killian and Lee to value what they have in life.  “I’ve walked away from conversations, from people, feeling really appreciative for everything in my life,” Killian informs me.  There is also another, slightly unexpected side to the job, with the boys frequently taking on the role of a counsellor. “Some people don’t talk to their friends or family, but will tell a stranger their life story.”

At the moment the duo are very lucky with the weather, with the sunshine drawing people outdoors, but what happens when Winter arrives?  Lee assures me that their pictures will reflect the changing seasons.  “We’re never going to post a summer picture in the winter.”  Almost all of the photos the photos featured in the project are published within a week of being taken.  They like to have a consistent stream of photos for their Facebook page, as they have seen similar projects fail before, due to a lack of frequently updated content.  “There’s been a picture up in the morning for people going to work and a picture up in the evening for them coming home from work,” Killian informs me.

The sudden success the project has achieved, is heartening – as is the positive response it has been met with, by subjects and followers – but what do Killian and Lee have planned for Humans of Ireland?  “This is way down the line, but there is potential to have a Humans of Ireland book, with potential to sell internationally,” says Killian.  It’s a pipe dream for now though.  The immediate goal for the two is a much smaller feat. “The master plan,” says Killian “would be to get the page to a ridiculous amount of likes.”   They are not doing too bad so far, with over 8,ooo likes in just under 4 weeks – evidence of the positive response they have received –  but the creative pairing aren’t so easily pleased.  “We are not happy with that; the first 100,000 might make us happy.”  Killian is quick to point out that this is not born of ego, “We’ve removed ourselves as far away from the page as possible.  It’s not about us and how good we are at something – it’s all about the people we photograph and their story.”

Whether they realise it or not, the creative duo have achieved a lot in a very short space of time and they are thankful to those who have supported the project so far.  “We’d like to thank everyone who has clicked like so far.  As long as you keep liking, we’ll keep posting – so keep on clicking!”

You can check out the Humans of Ireland Facebook page here, which I strongly recommend you do.  The emotive photographs, coupled with the very real, very human stories, portray a compelling image of modern Ireland.


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Interview with Krank.ie
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