Humans Of Kingston

By Trilby Goouch
Blogs Editor

Meet Humans of Kingston, a visual census of Kingston aimed at conveying stories of local personalities through a photograph. Photographer Jonathon Reed (ConEd ’15) can be found roaming the streets of Kingston, snapping portraits of students, families, dog walkers and the like. I was introduced to Humans of Kingston by a friend and loved the unique concept. Jonathon photographs with his heart and conveys undeniable passion for his work. Be sure to ‘Like’ Humans of Kingston to enjoy his photography as it’s updated.

Qj: When did you start Humans of Kingston? What inspired you?
Reed: Easy answer? I didn’t start it. The project was started last year by Asad Chishti, a second-year Queen’s student (Sci ’14), photograph-story curator and community maestro. It was inspired by Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York and [it] became a sort of experiment to connect with strangers on the streets of Kingston. I started shooting in October and kept it up when Asad ran off to another continent.

Qj: When did your interest in photography develop?
Reed: Probably too early; I broke three digital cameras before I got to high school. I bought my own camera almost five years ago and have been falling in love ever since. I feel like my camera has become an extension of my arm, eyes, and brain.

Qj: What’s your favourite aspect of taking photos?
Reed: What I really love about photography is the ability to capture a moment — one that will never happen in the same way ever again, like jumping in a pile of leaves during an autumn twilight or holding hands on Princess St. on a bitter winter day. Capturing moments of clarity like that is what makes photography worth the hard work.

Qj: What are some of your most memorable encounters? How do people usually react to your photo requests?
Reed: They’re all memorable. I’ve met the city curator and one of the architects of the Kingston library. I’ve talked to people living on the streets and students trying to figure themselves out. I’ve sat and watched a potter at the wheel and fist bumped a twelve-year-old ballet dancer. When I look at the set of photos I’ve taken, I’m not seeing photographs, colours, likes or comments. I’m seeing people, memories of conversations and connections; I’m seeing friends.

When it comes to approaching people, they are usually a little bemused, interested and maybe somewhat taken aback. In the end, almost everyone is really happy to talk. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to connect with a stranger; Kingston has got some great humans.

Qj: What do you look for in your photos? What makes a great shot?
Reed: Human photography is something I didn’t have a whole lot of experience with when I started [at] Humans of Kingston. It’s something that I’m still learning about, but I guess what I strive for is for my photos to tell a story. That’s when I know I’ve taken a great shot.

Another big motivation is to capture that je ne sais quoi (as my mother would say) about the person. To create an image that represents who they are, to me, in that moment.

QJ: Where do you see yourself in 5 years with regards to Humans of Kingston?
Reed: Me in five years? Kicking up the dust in Fes or kayaking in Paihia. Connecting with kids and learning new languages, learning to surf, or maybe outer space. Short answer: I won’t be in Kingston.

But Humans of Kingston will be. In five years, I envision strangers in Kingston sitting together in coffee shops, buying each other drinks at the movies, taking trips to Wolfe Island — humans connecting with one another. This photography project might seem small or inconsequential, but I’m living it and I can tell you it has immense potential.

At the end of the day, we all want a little connection. It starts as a smile on the street — who knows where it will go.

See you on the street!

Check out some of Reed's favourite shots.

Know of someone who you think should be featured on Humans of Kingston? E-mail!

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.