The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, January 18, 2018, Coast Weekend, Page 10, Image 10

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Humans of Astoria
New community member Mitch Eckhardt collects stories, photos of locals for ‘Tell Me Astoria’
hen Mitch Eckhardt and his
family relocated to the Colum-
bia-Pacific area from a small
Texas town last fall, Eckhardt
was determined to move past the shallow
conversations that people normally have. So he
created “Tell Me Astoria,” a photography/story-
telling project featuring Astoria residents.
“Tell Me Astoria” is largely inspired by “Hu-
mans of New York,” created in 2010 by street
photographer Brandon Stanton.
“What I love about ‘Humans of New York’ is
that it’s uniquely about people,” Eckhardt said.
“Any criticism that could be leveled against
Stanton — and there are people who say he’s
not the best photographer — should realize that
it’s not the point. The point is to share stories
around us.”
In Stanton’s case, the original goal was to
photograph 10,000 New Yorkers on the street
and catalogue the city’s inhabitants. Stanton
began collecting stories along with the photos,
and the project went viral with more than 20
million followers on social media and a bestsell-
ing book.
Eckhardt’s process is less forward.
“I’m not just walking up to people on the side-
walk; I want people to come to me. If they’re
asking me to be a part of the project, it usually
means they don’t mind being photographed,” he
With a desire to interact with the community
and a passion to capture his new home, Eckhardt
began “Tell Me Astoria” with a post on social
media. After receiving a ton of comments, he
redirected them to his email and began collect-
ing stories.
Eckhardt originally started photographing
artists but has since branched out to anyone who
expresses an interest. Sid Deluca, an Astoria
visual artist, was recently featured. “Mitch is
genuinely interested and enthused by his new
town and the people in it,” Deluca said. “It was
very easy to talk to him, and I think he captures
the best in his subjects.”
“East Mooring Sunset”
Mitch Eckhardt takes photos near his office at Pier 39 in Astoria.