Humans of Hartford share a city’s stories on social media

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HARTFORD - In a busy downtown Hartford, as people rush to their destinations, there seems to be no time for stopping or talking.

If you run into East Hartford resident, Nick Cinea, that all changes.

Cinea is giving people in the city reason to pause, by tossing out deep questions most strangers wouldn’t dare ask.

“Could I ask what that phone conversation was about?” Cinea asked a woman who just hung up her phone on Main Street.

If that's not bold enough, Cinea's last question takes it a step further.

“You mind if I get a shot of you?” asked Cinea of a man he was chatting with.

Cinea is on a quest to compose an image of the capital city he says many people don't see, especially with 18 homicides so far this year.

“Hartford is typically labeled as a scary city,” says Cinea.

Therefore, through the Humans of Hartford project, Cinea voluntarily heads into the city on his days off from work, looking to document people's life story, showing the world Hartford’s brighter side.

“The ‘Humans of’ projects do something that most people could do, but don't and that's talking to the stranger that's next to them on the street or on the bus and getting their story because everyone has a story to tell,” said Cinea. He was inspired by the Humans of New York project, you can learn more about that here.

Some people are reluctant, but most give it a shot. After a lengthy conversation and few photos, Cinea heads home and posts the photos and stories to his still developing snapshot of Hartford on Facebook and Instagram.

However, one picture you won’t see on the blog is Cinea’s, but like everyone else, he too has a story.

“Photographing people of Hartford really teaches you a lot about yourself and your own life,” said Cinea.

Cinea started Humans of Hartford after getting out of a rocky relationship, one that ironically left him without a vision of his future.

He says meeting lots of people, taught him, everyone will be OK, like the man who plays chess to reconnect with his son or the woman who divorced twice and still found happiness traveling the world.

Now, Cinea hopes everyone else looks at the bigger picture and realizes, this is a community and they’re not alone.

“The person in front of you in line getting coffee or the person next to you on the bus, they're going through something just like you are,” said Cinea.

Cinea’s Humans of Hartford project can be found here.