#ThrowbackThursday: Spontaneous Portraits

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Photos by Greg Conderacci ’71. Click to enlarge.

These days, most Princeton students riding elevators spend their time sending a quick text, checking their email, or taking a snapchat. Perhaps the last thing one would expect is to be asked to have her picture taken.

That’s exactly what Greg Conderacci ’71 did at Firestone Library on a spring day in his senior year. Conderacci, then a student writer for PAW, said at the time that “people reveal themselves in interesting ways when they have their picture taken.” Only one person declined his request. The six images published by PAW are featured above.

More recently, the idea of taking spontaneous portraits has gone viral thanks to the website and Facebook page Humans of New York. Affectionately referred to as HONY, the site is the work of a photographer who approaches strangers in New York City and asks to take pictures and ask them a few questions about their experiences. Alternatively inspiring, surprising, grim, and honest, the photographer’s posts push HONY’s more than 1.7 million viewers to look for the humanity in each stranger. Princeton has its own spinoff, Humans of Princeton, which has drawn more than 2,100 Facebook likes since the start of the academic year.

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