People of Eau Claire

A glimpse into the lives of Eau Claire citizens

Story by Elena Dawson

I have a people watching habit. I think we all do. We can’t help but look at the people who walk past us on our way to class, or who sit across the aisle on the bus. They all have their own individual story that led them to where they are today. I was inspired by the Humans of New York Instagram page so I grabbed my camera and hit the streets of Eau Claire to try and get to know some strangers. Approaching strangers is not an easy task, especially when they see the camera in your hand. After a couple of rejects, I was having some success and was feeling pretty confident. Most people were interested in the project and were eager to tell me about their life experiences. My goal was to skip past the small talk that we all usually engage in with strangers, and go straight into some thought-provoking questions.

“What is something that you are proud of?”

“Can you tell me about a moment in your life that helped shape you into the person you are today?”

“What’s the best piece of life advice you could give to someone?”

Most of the people I came across hesitated a bit before providing their answers. Some people offered quick responses while others provided a full story. My afternoon wandering around Eau Claire taught me quite a bit. People are more often than not happy to talk with you even if you have never met them before. This experience also reinforced the idea that you never know what someone is going through. The first woman I approached denied having her picture taken, but still told me a personal story about what is going on in her life. It was a touching story and she still had a smile on her face despite what she was going through. My biggest takeaway from this experience is that if you see someone new, just say hi. You never know what you could learn from them.