North Texas Daily

People of Denton: capturing faces around the city

People of Denton: capturing faces around the city

People of Denton: capturing faces around the city
February 10
22:56 2014

Nicholas Friedman // Staff Writer

This past Tuesday, while braving the below-freezing temperatures and recent snowfall, RTVF senior Wesley Kirk asked one question to the subjects of his photos.

“Can you tell me something interesting about yourself?”

Some described the miniature snowmen they were making while others told of wedding plans for the coming year, but every person had a different answer.

Kirk posts the photos he takes with his camera with accompanying captions to a Tumblr he created called People of Denton. The page aims to highlight the different kinds of people making up Denton. Since its 2013 inception, the page has gained attention from locals, blogs and on social media.

Kirk created “People of Denton” in 2011, but didn’t begin posting photos until September of 2013, he said, after realizing it was going to be his last year at UNT.

“I had reserved the URL two years ago but I kept making excuses about posting,” Kirk said. “Since I had no posts, I was at first hesitant about approaching strangers with no pictures on the site. I photographed my girlfriend at first so that when I handed people my card they wouldn’t think I was lying.”

Months after handing out his first card and making the first post on the website, the Tumblr has over 100 posts and has gained a following of 995 unique users at time of press.

Kirk said that he mostly takes photos on the UNT campus, but he hopes to be able to broaden his range soon.

“The reason I mostly take pictures of UNT students is because I bring my camera on to and from class, but I want to start photographing the square and TWU more,” Kirk said. “I tried to go to TWU one Friday but I realized that they didn’t have Friday classes.”

Business administration sophomore Nolan Plourde was on his way to class in late January when he recognized Kirk from the blog after noticing him taking pictures.

“He asked me to tell him something interesting about myself,” Plourde said. “The first thing that came to mind was my love for cereal, and as soon as I said it his girlfriend and I talked about cereal for a few minutes.”

Plourde said that he believes Denton is a unusual place full of interesting people, and that People of Denton is a great way to share this idea.

The blog gained a lot of popularity during the famed “Icepocalypse” of 2013, when Kirk and his girlfriend, RTVF junior Erin Summerlin, decided to put sweaters on many of the statues on the UNT campus.

The famous “sweater bombs” were the highlight of Twitter feeds and Reddit posts for days following the discovery after Kirk posted the photos on People of Denton.

In addition to being the first person photographed for People of Denton, Summerlin said she helps Kirk about once a month interviewing and photographing people, adding that she enjoys the learning experience as a photographer.

“I think it’s wonderful that Wesley connects to all of these strangers that we pass by every day,” Summerlin said. “I think it helps students understand that we are more alike than we think, causing people to be more outgoing.”

The brief but intriguing interactions that Kirk said he has with the people he photographs have led to exposure for the blog on other websites including local blog We Denton Do It.

“It’s simple, but beautiful and quite addictive,” a blog post on We Denton Do It  said of Kirk’s creation.

“We Denton Do It asked me to start writing a monthly column for them after they saw the blog,” Kirk said. “Having sit down interviews used to be difficult, but I want to be able to interview people that we all see, but that no one knows about.”

Even though Kirk graduates this year, he said he hopes to be able to continue posting on the site until his girlfriend graduates, and after that the couple would like to pass the site on somehow.

“I hope we are able to pass it down,” Summerlin said. “We are moving to Fort Worth after I graduate, starting a ‘People of Fort Worth,’ but we hope People of Denton continues and we want to leave a lasting creative impression on Denton.”

Feature photo: Radio, television and film senior Wesley Kirk is doing a project called “People of Denton.” He looks for interesting people in Denton to photograph and puts those photos on a Tumblr blog. Photo by Zixian Chen / Senior Staff Photographer 

About Author

Nicholas Friedman

Nicholas Friedman

Nicholas Friedman is the Editor In Chief of the North Texas Daily. In addition, he's had his work published at The Dallas Morning News, GuideLive and the Denton Record-Chronicle.

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