Dalton Hughes wanted to share people’s stories, so he did what any logical modern-day junior in college would: He made a Facebook page.
Hughes is the creator of Stories of Belmont, which he modeled after the hugely popular blog, Humans of New York. Like Humans of New York, Stories of Belmont features photographs of people from all walks of life, which are accompanied by their stories and thoughts in their own words. The page is already popular on campus, having claimed in excess of 1,200 likes in just three weeks.
“Before I even posted any pictures it had about 500 likes,” said Hughes. “People just love the concept. They love people.”
But the point of all this, Hughes said, is not to gain as many likes as possible.
Pages like Humans of New York and Stories of Belmont matter because they break down people’s barriers and assumptions, Hughes said. A case in point he used was his conversations with Belmont’s maintenance workers.
“There’s a stereotype of, ‘Oh, they have a laborious job and probably hate their job because they’re picking up trash and stuff,’” he said. “But the ones I’ve talked to, they all love it, and it’s just something I just never stopped to take the time and talk about it to them.”
Corwin Davis, a junior Christian leadership major, said the page is a great outlet to hear the stories of people you walk by every day.
“It’s all the neat backgrounds and stories that merge to make Belmont,” Davis said. “It reminds us that although we’re all from different backgrounds, races, religions, sexualities, what have you, we are all at Belmont for the same purpose.”
For Neil Butler, Stories of Belmont highlights the things that are good about life on campus. The stories of the staff featured on the page are particularly moving, he said, because they show they believe in what Belmont stands for and are “not just here to get paid,” he said.
A self-proclaimed extrovert, Hughes’ conversations with people featured on the page must be in the moment, he said.
The interactions are never planned, and Hughes stressed that he doesn’t walk around on the lookout for possible people to talk to. Profound stories are more likely to be told, he said, if the conversation is natural and realistic.
“I never go to anyone and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to interview you for this photojournalism project,’” Hughes said. “People think they have to say something wise and crazy to be featured on the page, but no matter what anyone says, it’s going to sound profound because it’s their story.”
While Stories of Belmont is just beginning to grow, Hughes is already thinking about the future and how it relates to the page. Hughes spoke with a student at Vanderbilt who is working to start a similar page and is hopeful to collaborate with him and other photographers to create a Humans of Nashville page. There is actually a Humans of Nashville page already, but it was last updated in January and has only 60 likes.
“Long-term goals would be to continue Belmont but also collaborate with some other photographers here in Nashville, and people who like talking to people, and create a Humans of Nashville that is constantly updated and known,” said Hughes.