The Crew behind ‘Faces of UB’


This week, ‘Faces of UB: Campus Backstories’ marks a year of telling the UBian story. In this week’s post, the crew behind the series gives us a glimpse of what it’s like to be working on the project.


Doc (extreme left):

“I take some of the photos for the features. It surprises you when you work on the project. There is so much more to the subjects than meets the eye. There’s so much going on inside of them. Who they are isn’t always completely rendered by the photo – that’s always the case, of course… It makes you understand people better.”


“One of the goals of the project is to shine the light on everyone. The crew believes that everyone of us has a story to tell, and we believe each of those stories is worth telling.”


Who surprised you the most?

“Daiki. I didn’t know Buddhists could read the Bible and that they don’t follow Buddhism in baptizing a newborn; instead, they follow the Shinto tradition.”


Rona (second from left):

“I do the interview and write down the story. Whenever I do an interview, I get a new perspective about things – that part right there is a very rich experience. I didn’t realize it at first, but it’s changing the way I look at the world. I believe it’s one of the most profound experiences one can ever go through. If there’s one thing I will soon miss about being in UB, it would be this… ‘Faces’ is a great diversion. It made me a storyteller (and a mind-reader!). I will definitely miss that, too.”


“You’ll find pieces of my soul in the stories I re-tell. I’m reminded, every now and then, of how much we’re all alike; truly, life is a universal human experience. I love the experience. It’s utterly profound. Now I understand why Brandon Stanton embarked on ‘Humans of New York,’ which inspired this project.”


What’s the worst part of writing the story?

“Bleeding. You put in all those emotions in the story, you walk through the subject’s experience and in the process it leaves you squeezed, like something inside dies or becomes lost. It can be emotionally draining, but it’s wonderfully liberating.”


How do you get through it?

“I browse Pinterest, and I pin pins on my Miranda Kerr / Kendall Jenner / Cara Delevingne / Karlie Kloss / Gigi Hadid / Audrey Hepburn / Grace Kelly boards. Or I re-read a favorite book. Or I open Hillary Clinton’s Twitter page. If it still doesn’t work, I go the PT guys (at the UB Physical Therapy Center) – they can be the craziest and funniest people in the world.”


Name three things that amaze you.

“Nature, art, Criminal Minds.”


Give five random things about you.

“Music heals me. Shopping heals me. Talking candidly to someone heals me. My favorite word is freedom. I suck at cooking. I’ll give eight – I’m looking to someday watch a play that’s for real in London (and buy a dozen Burberry coats) and walk the streets of Italy. As a Sagittarian, I have this overwhelming obsession with the abstract. And I love Librans.”


What are your words for a good life?

“Understand more, judge less.”


Tin (center):

“I help assess in the over-all presentation of the project. ‘Faces’ is an example of a great collaboration between the students, staff, and faculty. The connection is there; the sense of family is there.”


“When you browse a story, you get into the feeling that’s there. You sympathize with the subject. You weep with the subject. You become proud. You get ecstatic. You always anticipate the next story.”


Which post really got you?

“The post on Jovit. I was deeply moved by the part where the mom was able to pinpoint her son in the crowd of cadets who all looked the same. A mom will always recognize her child.”


What name pops into your head when you hear the word ‘strength’?

“My husband’s name.”


What part of life puzzles you the most?

“It’s working your hardest, hoping to get the results you’ve always wanted and then getting a different outcome. I don’t know, but I can’t still seem to make sense of the answer to that. Or maybe I just refuse to come to terms with the answer.”


What’s your biggest question in life?

“Why do we have to weep?”


What’s your mantra for this year?

“Be grateful.”


Ja (second from right):

“I am involved in the graphics aspect of the project. ‘Faces’ has become the heart of the University’s online portfolio. It is a creative platform of a healthy conversation between and among the members of the UB community, including non-UBians. It’s interesting because it transcends the boundaries of digital media.”


“Working on the project is like working on a production of a drama anthology. I don’t do the shoot or the story, but it hits you right in the bone, especially when the story resonates with you. It teaches you important lessons; it inspires you.”


What post were you most moved by?

“It was Olivia’s story, because I got through college serving as a student assistant. Everything she said in there about being a student assistant is all true.”   


Do you have one big question about life?

“I believe all my questions are already answered. When you have faith in God, it makes it easier to understand the human existence.” 


What are some of the few things about you?

“I love Nicholas Sparks novels. I regularly watch Arrow, The Flash, The Walking Dead, Scorpion, Vampire Diaries, The Blacklist, The Following – the dark stuff. I’m a sucker for animes. I love Johnny Depp – he’s very versatile and witty.”


What type of music do you listen to?

“Rock, mostly. I also listen to a lot of Christian music.”


What’s your mantra for this year?

“Embrace positivity.”


Rene (extreme right):

“I work on the photo shoot for the series. It challenges you creatively. I have worked on studio portrait photography mostly, so it’s sort of new for me to shoot in a different setting. It’s also a challenge in that you have to try to capture at least a piece of the subject and his or her story.”


What’s a photographer’s biggest frustration?

“You take good pictures of things and of others but no good picture of you is ever taken. Most of the snaps taken of me are either stolen (the kind that are not cool), ridiculous, or that I’m somewhere in the background. I’m guessing we’re cursed that way.”


What’s the best part of being a photographer?

“You get to meet new people.”


What’s the biggest lesson photography has taught you / is teaching you?

“That a scene today won’t be the same as tomorrow.”


Who’s your photography hero?

“My wife. She’s my mentor.”


What’s your take on photography?

“The camera serves only as the recorder – the best gadget is still that which was given by God – the eyes. And the heart.”











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