“What’s your craziest story at Ohio State?”
That question and the answers it receives serve as captions for portraits of those on and around the OSU campus on Faces of Ohio State, a Tumblr blog run by an OSU student.
The photo project was started in April 2013 by Mohammad Ashique, a fourth-year in city and regional planning, as a way to combine his interests in photography and hearing people’s stories.
“Ohio State is a large campus, one of the largest in the world, and we all have our story,” he said. “And I just wanted to go out and listen to all the stories and all the people.”
His process is straightforward: If he sees someone “sitting around not particularly doing anything,” he’ll go up and ask if they’ll talk to him and let him take their picture.
Most people, he said, are willing to participate — like Kara Spada, a third-year in international relations.
Spada said she enjoyed working with Ashique, and she believes he’s onto something with Faces of Ohio State.
“(Ashique) is obviously interested in people who seem a little bit different or who have something interesting to say,” Spada said. “People are doing so many strange things, and you don’t get to hear about it.
“People want to know crazy stories, like that guy living in those people’s basement,” she said, referencing The Lantern’s story from September of a stranger found to be living in the basement of some OSU students’ off-campus home.
That story might not have been out of place on the blog — stories there range in subject from sneaking into bars, to dates with teaching assistants, to tripping on mushrooms, to converting to Islam.
That wide range of experiences shared on the blog is what Evan Yarrington, a third-year in electrical and computer engineering, said he liked about it.
“When you attend such a large university or live in a city with millions of people and see so many faces in a day, it can be hard to humanize every person that you see,” Yarrington said. “Often we lose sight of the fact that every single person has his or her own unique experiences, morals and goals in life.”
Spada said those kinds of stories are what people like to hear about.
“People are really interesting. People are interested in the strange stories of other people,” Spada said.
While some people might have a natural interest in other people, Ashique said not all of the work behind the blog came to him effortlessly.
“I’ve always been rather shy, and I still am,” he said.
Asking other students about their crazy OSU stories is part of his attempt to be “more outgoing,” Ashique said.
“It’s becoming more natural now that I have some experience, but sometimes it’s still kind of tough,” he said.
The future of the blog is uncertain moving forward, as Ashique is set to graduate at the end of Spring Semester. He’s unsure of his plans following graduation, he said, adding that he’s not certain he’ll stay around campus or Columbus at all.
But he said the blog will live on regardless of what his own future holds.
“It will be continued, whether it’s through me personally, if I stay in Columbus, or through others,” Ashique said.