Untold stories

For her senior project Abby Bryant told the stories of random people around Collin County


Courtesy of Abby Bryant

Abby Bryant uses photos to tell the stories of random humans of Collin County for her senior project.

Seven years. They waited seven long years. They believed the Lord wanted them to adopt, and they got an answer. The wait came to an end when Mei, their new daughter, arrived from China. Nathan and Marie Kocurek welcomed her to the family with open arms. It worked out perfectly as Marie wanted a daughter to go with their two sons.

This story was shared because of senior Abby Bryant. Abby has always been invested in people’s lives, and with her senior project coming up, she had just the right idea. She would make an Instagram account where she would post a picture and a story of some stranger in Collin County, inspired by photographer and blogger Brandon Stanton of “Human of New York” fame.

“He would just go around New York City and ask strangers about the good things and hard things in their life,” Bryant said. “It made New York more authentic and genuine, and so basically I wanted to do the same with my community.”

The motivation behind Bryant’s project is what differentiates from a typical senior project.

“I wanted to get to know the people around here,” Bryant said. “Just show that we all have struggles, we all have hopes, we all have dreams. And make everyone relatable.”

Although all the details of her project have been worked out, getting everything together did have some challenges.

“The biggest struggle was having the confidence to address people,” Bryant said. “There was always the fear of rejection, so when some people didn’t want to talk I had to be okay with that and still be friendly.”

While the project itself involves a lot of confrontation and devotion to strangers’ lives, Abby’s friend, senior Noelle Franz, said the project fit Abby perfectly.

“Abby loves talking to people and knowing everything about them,” Franz said. “She’s real intentional with people, and it helps that she’s also a great photographer.”

Instead of focusing on a particular group of people, Abby decided to feature people of different ethnicities and ages, in order to get  a variety of perspectives.

“It’s really cool to see people of all ages have a goal in life and what stage they’re in,” Bryant said. “And how that is shaping them to be the person they want to be or are.”

Abby’s father only helped her for a few hours on a Saturday, but he himself was also intrigued by some of the stories he heard from strangers.

“There was a young boy working a booth for his family,” David Bryant said. “Another interesting one was a military veteran who had an older restored car and he shared his life experiences.”

Abby wasn’t afraid to ask deep questions, and from it she ended up getting impactful answers. She interviewed Franz about the stress of the future.

“She asked about anxiety, and about leaving home for college,” Noelle said. “And I am excited to move on and see the next chapter of my life.”

While the interview process itself can be a challenge, there is also the factor of taking compelling photos. The goal was to make it more realistic so the viewers could see the dynamic in the subject’s life.

“For the little kid at the booth, I got a picture of him while he was working with other customers at the Farmer’s Market,” Bryant said. “With the dad and the adopted little girl, I got a picture while they were playing.”

Even though the project was a requirement, Bryant said she will continue the Instagram account.

“I really just started this and I have done around 12 people,” Bryant said. “I want to continue this project throughout the year, and when I move to Vancouver next year for my gap year, I hope to do a Humans of Vancouver, and get to know the people in that community.”

To view Bryant’s feed of pictures, search the username “@humansof750_ _” on Instagram.