Public eye: Joshua Herman, 30

New York street interviews: Stories from the sidewalk as told by real New Yorkers about their lives in the city that never sleeps.

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Joshua Herman, 30

Joshua Herman, 30 Photograph: Allison Michael Orenstein


Union Square

How’s your summer been? Good! I just got back from the south of France.

I feel terrible for you. [Laughs] My girlfriend is from there, and for legal reasons she has to go back every three months.

You gotta put a ring on that. Yep. That’s where we’re headed.

What do you do? I have a company that hosts professional networking events for photographers. I started it with a photographer, and we’re also working on a book project together.

What kind of book? It’s a photodocumentary project about a Hasidic community based in Crown Heights called Chabad-Lubavitch. They’re all over the world—wherever there’s a community in need of an organizer or religious leader. We’ve been to Peru, Guatemala, Cuba, Siberia, Russia, all over Europe, the U.S., Mexico, Haiti…

Are these the “Excuse me, are you Jewish?” guys? Yeah, you see them all over Brooklyn in their Winnebagos. They’re about finding secular Jews who don’t know a rabbi. Their goal is to fight assimilation and make sure Jews marry other Jews.

How do you fund all that world travel? It’s between the networking company and taking out loans to make it work. We’ve also started a publishing company—it’s a hybrid model that combines self-publishing with Kickstarter, where you presell. If you do something people believe in enough, they’ll buy the book, but also give more money to make sure it reaches fruition. We’re doing a book on the death penalty, so funders will get one for themselves and then we’ll send one to all of Congress.

What about the death penalty? It’s illustrating people who have been executed, with their mug shots, rap sheets and last words. It stands on the principle that if you’re going to put a man to death, you should at least look him in the eyes.

Whoa. What are the last words like? Some are “I’m innocent—this system is fucked up,” some are religious, some are “Can I get a cup of coffee?” We’re putting personality behind this societal issue that gets debated. The idea is, regardless of where you stand, you’re putting a person to death, so here’s what that person said before it happened.

More from Joshua

“I’m moving to Kensington. I found a house with a miniature yard I have to mow and everything.”


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