FAIRMONT (AP) —
On Facebook you can find a page for just about any interest. In north central West Virginia, one photographer has created a new Facebook page to share images and short profiles of his fellow citizens.
Inspired by a project in the Big Apple, this page has captured the spirit of the Friendly City and in just one month it has attracted hundreds of followers.
Humans of Fairmont, and the Facebook page after which it’s modeled — Humans of New York — are categorized as Arts and Humanities websites.
Both sites feature photos of everyday people or snapshots from community events, often accompanied by short snippets of interviews or personal observations.
On the Humans of Fairmont page you will find a postal carrier discussing the heaviest package he’s ever had to deliver, young dancers in ethic garb at a community event telling how long they’ve studied their craft, and an elderly gentleman feeding a hungry swarm of stray cats and responding to a question about what he plans to have for his own dinner that evening.
The man behind the lens and the one asking the questions is Creed Holden. He launched the page on June 2, 2014 and he admits he did not anticipate how quickly the page would attract such a following.
“Because I never ever thought that just taking pictures maybe of anonymous people and ask them a little question would be so fascinating to other people,” Holden said. “But it is. And I was really surprised by it and interested in what it might be that people are getting from what I am doing.”
Holden appreciates the feedback he has received - whether on the page itself or through private messages. He jokes that the page is sort of like the old Seinfeld show -touted as the “show about nothing.”
He says Humans of Fairmont has no particular topic or subject it’s trying to promote. No agenda. It’s just about everyday people you see around town. He specifically aims to be uplifting, rather than derogatory or condescending.
And everyday people have responded.
“I get very touching comments about how it makes them feel about their hometown and the people and they really like the fact that these are just people I’ve bumped into and what they might have, the little tidbit they might be sharing with the world and people find that fascinating,” he said.
Holden is originally from Doddridge County but came to Fairmont in 1976 to attend Fairmont State University. It was there he took a photography class and caught the bug to take pictures.
He stayed in Fairmont for a job right after graduation, got married and never left. He currently does communications work for Mister Bee Potato Chips, helping the company build its online following.
Holden loves his adopted city and is active in efforts to preserve its history and tell its story.
Holden points to the city’s rich history of cultural diversity, reaching back to the days when miners came from overseas to work and continuing through today with people moving into the area for the technology industry.
“And maybe people aren’t aware of that,” Holden said. “But hopefully with Humans of Fairmont we can open people’s eyes up to what’s really, they may have missed here in our friendly city.”
Meanwhile, Holden can be found wandering through town at various times of day and night, finding and telling the stories of the Humans of Fairmont.
Sarah Lowther Hensley writes for West Virignia Public Broadcasting.