Creative Photo Project Ideas: Marc Orbito’s One Thousand in Nerd Glasses Photography Project

Milestones, memories, everyday ordinary moments…there’s a whole new year full of them just begging to be photographed. ‘Tis the season for resolutions and creative new photography projects. Capture your life’s moments and exercise your photography muscles with a new photo project in 2013.

In early 2012, I began documenting my life’s journey – photographing my red Converse-clad feet throughout my travels. The I Was Here Photo Project is an ongoing personal and creative endeavor, one that’s given me a deeper appreciation for the twists and turns in my life’s unique journey.

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One Thousand in Nerd Glasses Photo Project

My friend, Marc Orbito, is on a similar adventure of his own. A self-proclaimed Disney junkie and talented Hawaii-based photographer, Marc is off on a journey of discovery – making human connections and photographing his life’s amazing adventure through his super fun One Thousand in Nerd Glasses Photo Project.

One thousand people photographed in the same pair of nerd glasses, each one unique and with their very own stories to tell.

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OTING is not your average, run-of-the-mill photo project.

It’s about making connections with another member of humanity.

It’s talking, listening, opening your mind and seeing people in a whole new light.

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One Thousand in Nerd Glasses is about random strangers letting their guard down and having fun.

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Marc’s awesome new photo project is incredibly inspiring. Read on to find out what he had to say about One Thousand in Nerd Glasses, the stories behind the journey and creating a photo project of your own:

The One Thousand in Nerd Glasses (OTING) Photo Project is such a fun and creative way to capture everyday people through photography. What inspired you to start the such a creative photo project?

Sometimes ideas are the result of an accumulation of life experiences. Sometimes you just wake up thinking, “I want to photograph one thousand people.” I suppose the One Thousand in Nerd Glasses Photo Project was a combination of both.

In March, I visited the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where an exhibit of hundreds of photos by Dutch photographer, Rineke Dijkstra, were on display. Her photography wasn’t particularly extraordinary, but there was an amazing consistency to her work, which in itself, was powerful. Seeing all of those photos on display in front of me at one time made quite an impact. The next morning I woke up thinking, “I want to photograph one thousand people in the exact same manner.”

But how would I tie them all together?

That answer came several months later when I saw basketball stars, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook, sporting nerd glasses during their ESPN post-game interviews. That was it!

Nerd glasses. One thousand people. I knew it would be hilarious and fun.

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You’ve photographed people from many different walks of life through OTING. I imagine that there are some amazing stories behind those glasses. Who are some of the most memorable people you’ve met along the way?

My OTING journey is a lot like Huckleberry Finn’s wayward journey of discovery down the river – meeting characters and getting into adventures along the way. There was the blind DJ in Hawaii, the toothless ukulele player in Austin, Texas, Cinderella at Walt Disney World and the guy dressed up as Johnny from “The Karate Kid” in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

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What’s fascinated me most throughout the journey are people’s reactions. “Are you serious?” is a common one, though some still hold on to the negative connotation that nerd glasses suggest. I happened across a muscle bound performer in Las Vegas who opposed to wearing the glasses for fear that it would ruin his reputation. But while photographing a local red carpet event, former Miss Hawaii, Angel Byrd, surprised me by happily obliging.

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Having modeled before, she was clearly aware that sometimes confidence is the best thing you can put on display no matter what you are wearing.

The OTING stories are varied, but there is one underlying thread that joins them all – one member of humanity was able to share a moment with another member of humanity because one asked the other to wear nerdy glasses and be photographed.

How many people have you photographed in nerd glasses so far and what challenges, if any, have you encountered?

I’m up to about 350 or so photos right now. It’s tougher than it looks. The One Thousand in Nerd Glasses Photo Project is an exercise in stamina and approach and I’ve given myself a few rules:

  • I will not approach a stranger on the street and ask them point blank if they want to be photographed wearing nerd glasses. The photo has to occur naturally.
  • I will never create an event or gathering based solely on asking people to wear the glasses so I can photograph them.

The obvious challenges I’ve encountered include people who decline any kind of involvement, but the internal challenges are tougher. I’m an introvert and this photo project requires me to be outside of myself. That in itself is tough. The other challenge is outrunning self-doubt.

When I reached the 230 mark, I began to think that the project was ludicrous. I’d already photographed most everyone in my daily circles. I was running low on subjects and 1,000 seemed impossible, but one day a quote from Bruce Lee gave me the encouragement that I needed.

“Let nature takes its course and your tools will strike at the right moment.”

And just like that, as crazy as it sounds, the glasses found people for me. It knew when to strike. People were coming out of the woodwork. It was an uncanny sign from above that this project was meant to be.

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What advice do you have for folks looking to create a photo project of their own?

If you’ve got an idea, take it and run with it. Sometimes we focus too much on how we are going to execute things, that the project suffocates and dies before it even gets a chance.

Just start. Create rules and set goals for yourself; break it down and chew it up in small pieces.

Don’t restrict yourself. Be open to changes that may occur after you’ve started your photo project. When I first started, I was intent on using only one pair of glasses and photographing only individuals. I later realized that some people were more open to being photographed if a friend could jump into frame with them.

And finally, have fun!

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Marc’s One Thousand in Nerd Glasses is a huge undertaking, but you don’t need to start out so big. Whether you jump on board a weekly online photo project or create a new one of your own, embrace the process, push yourself, reflect, grow and have fun!

Stop by and “like” Marc’s One Thousand in Nerd Glasses fan page, put on a pair of nerd glasses and don’t forget to smile. He might be coming to a town near you!

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*Photo credit: All photos (except the first two) © Marc Orbito and Hungry Eye Photography for One Thousand in Nerd Glasses Photo Project.


  1. by Susi on December 30, 2012  9:25 am Reply

    This is so cool and I love reading stories like this. It makes me think and realize that no matter how small I am and how far I have to travel in my own photography journey that I can do it as long as I do it for myself and have fun with it!!! This is a great inspiration!!! Thank you! Wishing you a Happy New Year!

    • by Kristi on December 30, 2012  11:18 am Reply

      Isn't it such an awesome photo project?!? So inspiring!

      We're all on our own photography journeys. So glad ours overlapped!

  2. by sarah @sundayspill on December 30, 2012  2:24 pm Reply

    That really is cool. Now my wheels are turning. Eek! I want to try something like it Kristi. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • by Kristi on December 30, 2012  2:26 pm Reply

      I'd love to see what you come up with! I hope this inspires people to think outside the box and create new photo projects of their own.

  3. by Nicole P. on December 30, 2012  2:41 pm Reply

    So cool! I love photo projects. It's inspiring.

    • by Kristi on December 30, 2012  7:28 pm Reply

      Me too! Do you plan to do any photo projects this coming year?

  4. by Alison on December 30, 2012  3:51 pm Reply

    I've loved taking photographs since I was a kid, but I've never taken it seriously (or very far) - I don't own a DSLR, just a semi-DSLR (pretender!) but I really do want to try new things with photography in 2013. This is so inspiring, I want to actually DO something. Thank you for this!

    • by Kristi on December 30, 2012  7:31 pm Reply

      What kind of camera do you have? Not that it matters, but I'd love for you to join me and my photo challenge partner, Rebecca of Bumbles & Light, when our next photo challenge starts up in February. We provide inspirational themes, tips and tutorials and it's super laid back. Let me know if you're interested. :)

      • by Alison on December 30, 2012  10:12 pm Reply

        I have a Canon PowerShot SX 30 IS. After reading your post, I had an idea for a photography project and even started a Tumblr blog to record it, but I would love to see what you and Rebecca are doing in February!

        • by Kristi on December 31, 2012  7:32 pm Reply

          That's awesome! I can't wait to see it. I'd love for you to send me the link once it's up and running. :) We'll be making an announcement about the photo challenge in a week or so. Stay tuned!

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  6. by Jenny on January 5, 2013  7:51 pm Reply

    that's pretty awesome :)

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