Humans of BU
by Maya Reyes
Photography Courtesy of Instagram (@allstoncrawl)
Humans of New York started an Instagram phenomenon with its portraits of New York City residents that offered insights into their lives and innermost thoughts. The popularity of the account led to many copycat Instagram accounts. On campus, many Instagram accounts have followed suit by adopting the portrait style that made Humans of New York famous, but offers more tongue-in-cheek insight into student life.
One such account is Allston Crawl (@allstoncrawl), whose curator and photographer has chosen to remain anonymous. This account offers portraits of Boston University students in Allston at parties or bars, accompanied with a caption of their choosing.
The account has gained a following of over 1,000 followers since its first post last December (1,536 at the time of publishing). The person responsible, who was previously in CFA, was inspired to start the account as a creative outlet.
“I felt like I needed a driving theme to help creatively motivate me,” they said. “College is such a social place and I learn every day how deeply connected Boston University’s social circle is and so it has been a way to keep connecting people in a fun way.”
"Allston Crawl" is a well-known nickname that refers to the search for a party—often conducted in the BU-adjacent neighborhood of Allston, which contains a number of bars and frat houses—and has become a rite of passage for BU students.
“Everyone knows of the crawl and most have done of crawl,” said the curator. “[Allston] the most social area a BU student could go.”
The photos are taken with a 35mm small film camera called a Diana Mini. Students are chosen based on those whom the curator or their friends know. However, some fans of the account will approach the curator. Since the subjects are unable to see the photos before they're developed and posted, they chose their captions blindly.
“The caption shows their personality, which I focus on trying to capture,” said the curator.
One of the first subjects, Aidan Intemann (SHA ’19), was approached before the account was started. Later, he was asked for permission for his photo to be used and asked to provide a caption. He chose: “Can we just go to the grocery store?”
“It was just what I was thinking at the time the photo was taken,” Intemann explained.
While offering a unique perspective, Instagram accounts with a similar mission as Allston Crawl are not necessarily uncommon on campus. BU Banana Eaters (@bu_bananaeaters) is another account with a following of over 800 users. Students submit photos and captions of people eating bananas—sometimes selfies, sometimes photos of friends or even strangers—in a funny display of BU students and their potassium-rich snacks.
Ethan Cappello (CGS ’16, COM ’19) became one such target when he noticed that someone had submitted a photo of him without his knowledge.
Eventually, however, Cappello did submit his own photo to the account: “I found it was one of my friends and I happened to have a photo of her eating a banana,” said Cappello. “So, I sent that in right away.”
Ultimately, this display of our diverse student body may be the biggest draw to these humorous takes on the Humans of New York style.
These accounts have added another layer to the social life of students. People are able to see themselves and friends in ways that feel more intimate and revealing than university-run campaigns used to spotlight BU students.
“A lot of people see at least one person they know on the Instagram,” said the Allston Crawl curator. “It gets people excited to see who else gets featured on it. It keeps them guessing.”