Salt Lake City isn’t the homogenous community the world would have everyone believe, and Mike Angelieri, the man behind photojournalism project, “Humans of Salt Lake City,” is proving that through candid interactions with the homeless woman on the corner and the student who bagged your last minute groceries.
But Angelieri wasn’t always so people-centric. That started late 2010, when an article about “Humans of New York,” the inspiration behind his project, was featured on MSNBC. Immediately recognizing the platform’s potential, he jumped online to see if anyone had beat him to the idea of launching a Salt Lake City spin-off. When search results yielded zilch, he created a Facebook page; some 40,000 odd followers later, and he’s still going strong.
“I’m not a therapist, I’m not a judge, I’m not a referee,” Angelieri said, adjusting his seat in the café downtown. “I just wanna hear your story. And people can glean from those stories whatever they may.”
And over the years, he’s learned there’s a shining jewel of wisdom inside all of us.
“It used to be when I worked downtown, I would go to lunch and have my focus on where I was going and what was I going to order,” Angelieri said. “Now I can’t walk anywhere without wondering what can I learn from that person? What can that person tell me that will open my viewpoint more than it already is?”
Although Utah is the heartland of the LDS church, Angelieri, a Mormon, often catches heat for featuring folks with Mormon roots. But he says that’s to be expected considering the area.
“I’m sure if there is a ‘Humans of the Vatican,’ he probably doesn’t ignore the Catholics,” Angelieri said. “Regardless of background, go to the Facebook page, follow, spread the word, see what you can learn and discover. You never know who is going to touch you with their words.”