The Daily Gamecock

Faces of Columbia Instagram brings positivity to Columbia

Local photographer Aaron Smalls created a new Instagram account called Faces of Columbia to display the positive aspects of the city from a local's perspective. 

“I really wanted to help people showcase more of what they like about Columbia,” Smalls said.

Smalls has been passionate about art since he was young. He was first introduced to photography in high school but didn’t pick it up until after he became less interested in drawing and visual art. Smalls got a camera which inspired him to pursue his love of photography and fashion. He started doing photography full time in 2015 and now has a studio on Harden Street. 

Smalls’ favorite type of photography showcases people and fashion. 

“For me, you can tell a lot about a person by looking into their eyes. I mean, they say that’s the window to the soul,” Smalls said. 

Faces of Columbia came from an older idea Smalls had while working as a contractor overseas. At the time, Smalls wanted to do a series called Faces of War that would support the troops while showing the realities of war-torn areas. 

“More than just the troops, I wanted to help innocent civilians, so pretty much just anybody hurt or affected by war,” Smalls said. 

He ran into a few boundaries and was unable to start the project, so he decided to bring a similar idea to Columbia. 

Smalls realized that people in Columbia need to focus on the valuable aspects of the city. He said people tend to express the negative even though there are always positive qualities to celebrate. 

“It’s just really about building a community and actually pushing things that people love about Columbia into light,” Smalls said. 

Smalls envisions each post on the account @facesofcolumbia including a photo of the person and an answer to the question “What do you love about Columbia?” Smalls hopes the short conversation gives people a chance to share stories about themselves or give information about a business they own that others in the community might be interested in. 

He plans on hosting one or two meet-ups per month around the city to encourage people to be a part of his project.

“People can actually come out, talk to each other, meet new people, maybe learn some new things about Columbia,” Smalls said. 

Along with the meet-ups, Smalls plans to collect more photos and interviews by talking with people in the city.

Smalls’ future goal for Faces of Columbia is to put the photos together in a book and use the profits to benefit the Columbia community. He also hopes to have a show in a museum one day. Smalls envisions the idea to expand beyond Columbia and become a statewide or national project, all in the pursuit to connect humans and showcase appreciated aspects of shared communities. 

"I feel like a lot of times, sometimes as humans, we express more of the negative versus what we love ... I definitely feel there is a need to just bring some positive energy, ” Smalls said.