Lonely Planet Writer

Why the creator of Humans of Dublin project likens it to a 'time capsule for the city'

Peter Varga is typical of the people he features in his hugely popular Humans of Dublin project. The 28 year-old Hungarian came to Ireland for a summer when he was 19, and never left.

Photographer Peter Varga who compiles Humans of Dublin.
Photographer Peter Varga who compiles Humans of Dublin.
Image by Tony Gavin

Working as a barista in Dublin, his girlfriend Maria, whom he met in a sandwich shop in the city,  introduced him to the hugely successful Humans of New York blog. Peter decided to see if he could do something similiar. “At the beginning, it was very hard to approach strangers, but after each interview my confidence grew and I was able to create more and more personal conversations.”
Two years on, is Humans of Dublin project is massively successful, and Peter has published his first book of the same name, featuring 188 faces and their stories, which he describes as “being a symbol of how Dublin is at the moment, but in the future, a reminder of how Dublin was during this time. Like a time capsule.” As someone who now sees Dublin as his home, he explains that people don’t have to be from the city to be part of his project: “what I love the most about Dublin is its people. Is the diversity of cultures, and the many languages and accents you can listen while walking on the streets of Dublin. We are all different and at the same time we are all the same.”
Here are some of the people captured by Peter:

"Now we have a band called Mutefish"
“Now we have a band called Mutefish” Image by Peter Varga

“I met him in a sex shop. We were both just doing our shopping and we started to chat. He said he plays music and I said I play music and now we have a band called Mutefish. We play progressive techno folk.”

"This is why I love Dublin. It's so free, you know? "
“This is why I love Dublin. It’s so free, you know? ” Image by Peter Varga

“I work in Meeting House Square as a barman, but I like to think of myself as more of a rebel than a barman… I’m going to work now in my uniform, full of tattoos and piercings, on a BMX, and nobody will look twice… This is why I love Dublin. It’s so free, you know? You can just be yourself. You do your job and you get paid and that’s all there is to it… It’s not the same in Croatia.”

"It took me a long time to realise I was living someone else's life."
“It took me a long time to realise I was living someone else’s life.” Image by Peter Varga

“People think life is easier in the city, but I find it the other way round. It’s not only cheaper to live in the countryside, but you don’t have this pressure all the time to increase your income. My life costs a fraction of what it used to. I grew up in a modern society, but I was always close to nature in Sweden. I read a lot of books about living in the wild and got advice from people who did it. I moved away from society but I got so much closer to humanity. Since then I learnt how to meditate, I did fire performance, I worked in a health food shop, I worked with autistic children…the more I do, the more I become. There’s still plenty of things to learn before I move out to the forest, like how to work with wood, how to grow my own food, how to build a house, but I enjoy every moment of it.”

Humans of Dublin
“This is only his second day here.” Image by Peter Varga

“He doesn’t speak English, this is only his second day here. I’m here five months now. We know each other about seven months, and it may sounds crazy, but we only met four times, yesterday was the fifth. We kept talking on the internet, and a few weeks ago he decided to leave Brazil and come here to live with me.”

Humans of Dublin
“I must say I’ve got a bigger picture in my life now.” Image by Peter Varga

“I love walking over O’Connell Bridge after a long day. I feel happiness every time I see all those different faces walking by. Where I’m from, you don’t see many happy faces… you don’t have much time to think about your future, usually you go to the college your points let you, and there’s no questions about what you’d like to do for the rest of your life. It’s like clockwork… but those faces remind me that I made it! I learnt English, I’m living in a different country, and I must say I’ve got a bigger picture in my life now.”

"While we were fighting I lost my shoe."
“While we were fighting I lost my shoe.” Image by Peter Varga

“At a beer festival I got too drunk, and I got in a fight with someone. While we were fighting I lost my shoe, and she was the one who gave it back to me. This is how we met four years ago.”

"We initially hated each other from the very start".
“We initially hated each other from the very start”. Image by Peter Varga

“She arrived at my house at the New Years party, and I was the DJ playing on the decks. She thought I was very rude because I didn’t stop playing music to say hello to everyone, but that was my thing at the time… And I thought she was very rude cos she came to my party and she just sat down on my couch, without even introducing herself… So we initially hated each other from the very start, but every time I went to someone’s party, she was there too. A few times we got drunk enough to start talking, and found out we worked close to each other. One day we met on our lunch breaks, and since then we’re together ten years. We just got married a few months ago… Love is a weird thing.”

"I often feel more like a therapist than a flight."
“I often feel more like a therapist than a flight attendant.” Image by Peter Varga

“On our flights the alcohol is free, so sometimes people drink too much and open up to us and tell their life story. These are intercontinental flights, so they have the time for it too. They often share things they would probably never tell to anybody, but they think they can talk to us because we’ll most likely never see each other again. Last time a guy told me how he discovered his wife is cheating on him with his best friend. It was so sad, not only because of the story, but he was crying, so what do you do? I started to cry too… and it doesn’t look very professional when all the other passengers are watching you crying with a stranger… I often feel more like a therapist than a flight attendant after these long flights.”

The last photo in the book features Peter.
The last photo in the book features Peter. Image by Niall Carson

The last photo in the book, is not taken by Peter, but features him. Peter is seen proposing to his girlfriend Maria, who was the one who encouraged him to start the Humans of Dublin photography project. Peter explains: “The last four years have been the best of my life. When you meet that person who changes everything, who you’re meant to be with, why wouldn’t you do everything in your power to keep them in your life?  Maria, if you’re reading (and I know you are), I have one question: will you marry me?”