March 20, 2013 at 10:49 AM ET
Feeling that interactions with friends on social media have become too superficial, photographer Ty Morin aims to connect in person with his Facebook friends – all 788 of them.
Morin, who admits he knows only about half of his Facebook friends personally, wants to photograph each of his online buddies doing what they love, whether it’s lifting weights or fighting fires. The Connecticut-based photographer also is making a documentary film about his project titled “Friend Request: Accepted.’’
On TODAY Wednesday, Morin spoke with Natalie Morales, Jason Kennedy, Dylan Dreyer, and Giada De Laurentiis about his idea. “I want to reconnect with people because we’re always behind our computer,’’ he said. “You can talk to these people behind their profile, but you see them in person and they’re like, ‘I don’t really know you’ and look down at their phone. From 50 yards away, you make an attempt to not talk to these people.’’
Morin has already raised $13,000 from donors on Kickstarter for his project after initially hoping to raise $5,000. He also is working part time as a wedding photographer and for his father’s business to help pay for the project, as many of his Facebook friends live outside the country. So far, he has photographed a few more than 20 people since starting the project a month and a half ago. He hopes to get to all 788 by 2016.
While reconnecting in person with old friends is often pleasant, Morin could face some tricky situations with people he is not particularly friendly with, as well as those he doesn’t know at all outside their Facebook profiles. “There’s going to be some awkward instances,’’ he admitted. “I’ve done some ex-girlfriends so far. I think it’s going to be good to reconnect with people even if I don’t know them.”
Instead of shooting the photos digitally, Morin is using an old 8x10 camera that takes longer to work, but allows for what he feels is a more meaningful interaction. Each shoot takes about an hour, and he hopes to do five of them per week until he hits his goal.
"The process of shooting with this camera is long and tedious,'' he writes on his Kickstarter page. "It can be a pain in the ass sometimes, but it also allows me to spend time with these people. If I were to shoot this with a digital camera, I would be in and out in 2 minutes - that's barely enough time for a handshake. My journey will consist of plane tickets, train tickets, and a lot of fuel. All that traveling calls for more than just a hello."