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Photographer travels across America asking 1000 strangers for advice on life. Here are the best 15 of them

He decided to quit his job and stayed on the road for 12 weeks traveling through 48 states to interview 100 strangers.

Photographer travels across America asking 1000 strangers for advice on life. Here are the best 15 of them
Cover Image Source: Imran Nuri

Life can feel overwhelming and arbitrary for a variety of reasons. As we move through life, we find our own unique ways to deal with what we are faced with. It was through this search for answers about life that Chicago-based artist and photographer Imran Nuri decided to quit his job in healthcare marketing and embark on an epic road trip in his Toyota Camry. The trip that started in May 2022 would go on to span 12 weeks and see him travel through 48 U.S. states. He photographed over 1,000 strangers and asked each of them for their advice on navigating through this experience called life. Imran Nuri described the epic journey as being way "out of his comfort zone" but he pushed himself as sought answers to life and connected with people.  


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Imran Nuri (@nuristudios)


 

 

Deciding to take on this journey wasn't an easy decision at all. In an exclusive interview with Upworthy, he shared how it was for him to mentally convince himself to leave certain things behind and have faith in himself to take on this humongous project. "Every time I thought of a reason why I shouldn't quit my full-time job, live in my car at rest areas for three months, and ask 1,000 strangers for life advice, I wrote it down. Before leaving, I had over a dozen very good reasons not to do it like the fact that I would have to take out a 5-year personal loan to fund it, gas prices doubled because of the Russia-Ukraine War, I was seeing a girl I really liked and going on the trip meant I wouldn’t see her for months. I had never slept in my car before, and so on." He continued, "At the end of the day, it was the unrelenting pressure of not knowing how many years I will get to live before I die one day that pushed me into taking action. Everybody wants to believe they’ll live to be 80 years old, but what if I’ll only live to be 30? What a risk it is to put things off for so long with years that aren’t guaranteed for you. I knew I had to do it while I could despite the sacrifices."


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Imran Nuri (@nuristudios)


 

 

He expresses, "In a time when divisiveness is more prevalent than ever, this series also seeks to show that despite our races, genders, locations, and more, we have more in common with the strangers around us than we think." Despite the fact that Nuri had no formal photography training (he graduated from Ohio State University's business college in 2020 with a marketing major and a design thinking minor), he felt compelled to make his ambitious vision for the project a reality. Instead of relying on phones or a digital camera, Nuri turned to a 50-year-old medium format Yashica Mat-124 G camera to capture 1,042 photos of 1,019 people on 87 rolls of film. He spent much of his journey wondering how the black-and-white images would turn out because they were captured on film. The end result is a collection of 1,000 black-and-white portraits of people from all over America, each of whom shared a personal lesson. Compiling them all he's created a "640-page, 10x10-inch, hardcover coffee table photobook of all 1,000 photos of the strangers and their advice about life," "Advice from America" which is going to be ready in time for Christmas 2023, and had already taken pre-orders on Kickstarter until July 13. Aside from that, he shares that he looks "forward to finishing an ongoing photo series exploring life events aside from human death that can trigger a cycle of grief."


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Imran Nuri (@nuristudios)


 

 

When it comes to asking for advice from a person who has asked advice from 1000 strangers, he shared his words with Upworthy, "The advice I would give to my younger self would be to be as open to new ideas and experiences as possible and to spend more time with the people I love. If I had to give advice to the world, I would say that we all have this idea that we’re chasing a light at the end of the tunnel, and that light is supposed to be something like constant happiness, but that’s unrealistic. The key to living a full life is to experience it all fully— the good, the bad, and the in-between. If you allow yourself to experience everything fully, then the length of your life won’t be the deciding factor in how much life you’ve lived." You can follow his work on TikTok, Instagram and Youtube

Here are a few of the pieces of advice he gathered along the way. Hopefully, they'll help you solve the puzzle of life. Starting with his personal favorite. 

1. "You can achieve anything you want"

Nuri shares, " I met someone at a farmer’s market in Washington, DC. At that point, I had been on the road for over two weeks and had already faced numerous obstacles, including a car accident a few days prior and a few of my unexposed film rolls getting wet which made them unusable. What he said resonated with me at the perfect time. I think about this all the time now when I’m facing a particularly challenging obstacle on the way to achieving my goals."

"I only have one piece of advice, and I really believe it. I believe that you can achieve anything you want in life; it just depends on how much discomfort you're willing to put up with to get there. If you want to be a doctor, you have to put up with years of rigorous school to get certified. Or a smaller example is if you want to go to a concert with sold-out tickets, you might have to haggle with ticket scalpers to get one, and that can be very uncomfortable, especially if you've never done that before. What are you willing to do to achieve what you want?"
Image Source: Imran Nuri
Image Source: Imran Nuri

 

2. The rules of serenity 

"One of the first things that my dear father told me almost 60 years ago is that we should follow the rules of serenity. Accept the things that you can't change, but for the things that you can, do so. It took me a long time to arrive at that because I didn't want to listen to my father. You know how it is when you're younger."
Image Source: Imran Nuri
Image Source: Imran Nuri

 

3. Think before you respond

"It's not what people say, it's how you respond. A lot of times, we are reactionary. Sometimes we react the wrong way and wish that we could take it back."
Image Source: Imran Nuri
Image Source: Imran Nuri

 


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Imran Nuri (@nuristudios)


 

 

4. Regretful habits 

"I wish I would've known what these damn cigarettes could've done to me when I started smoking at 12... I've got medical problems going on right now so I'm taking care of it. I've slowed down, but it's hard. "
Image Source: Imran Nuri
Image Source: Imran Nuri

 


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Imran Nuri (@nuristudios)


 

 

5. Things change...things improve 

"I think the big thing has been knowing that what exists doesn't have to exist. Things can change. Things can improve. The status quo is not necessarily something that is created by nature."
Image Source: Imran Nuri
Image Source: Imran Nuri

 


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Imran Nuri (@nuristudios)


 

 

6. Don't take yourself too seriously 

"Nobody thinks about you as much as you think about yourself, so don’t take yourself too seriously."
Image Source: Imran Nuri
Image Source: Imran Nuri

 

7. Have more fun...enjoy life 

"I worked my a** off my whole life. I had this big dream that I would live my life once I retired. I'd do art, redo a little house, and raise horses. But then I got sick. I got handicapped, and that dream ended. I would tell the younger me to have more fun, to enjoy life, and to make a family. It’s so corny, but family is everything."
Image Source: Imran Nuri
Image Source: Imran Nuri

 


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Imran Nuri (@nuristudios)


 

8. Set boundaries 

"Something I figured out for myself that I wish I knew earlier was how to set boundaries. I feel like a lot of people lose self-respect when they don’t create those boundaries with others."
Image Source: Imran Nuri
Image Source: Imran Nuri

 

9. Don't rush into things...be patient 

"Had I known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have rushed into things. I would’ve taken my time, been patient, and done my research instead of just jumping headfirst into things without knowing anything. Whatever you do, don’t do it too quick. Be patient."
Image Source: Imran Nuri
Image Source: Imran Nuri

 


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Imran Nuri (@nuristudios)


 

 

10. Pay attention to your health 

"I wish I would have known how important your health is. I went through the windshield of a car in a car crash in October of ‘89 and spent 15 days in a coma. I woke up the village idiot. If I would’ve paid a little bit better attention to my health, that may not have happened."

 

Image Source: Imran Nuri
Image Source: Imran Nuri

 

 

11. Don't settle for less 

"Don't compromise on the things you don't want to compromise on. Stick with your gut. Stick with what you know and believe in. Don't settle for less."
Image Source: Imran Nuri
Image Source: Imran Nuri

 


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Imran Nuri (@nuristudios)


 

12. "Stop hating each other because you disagree"

"Stop hating each other because you disagree. I’ve done that a lot when I was younger. I disagreed with somebody and I cut them off. Nobody’s perfect. We all have some 'isms,' my man. If we ain’t perfect, how come we can’t talk to one another? If my half of the ship goes down, yours doesn’t stay afloat— we’re all doomed. There are so many people out there fighting and trying to destroy the other half of the ship."
Image Source: Imran Nuri
Image Source: Imran Nuri

 

13. "If you're not feeling love, it's not love"

"My last relationship was very toxic and narcissistic, and now I’m pregnant with his child. I would tell myself to do better, look out for the signs, actually acknowledge the red flags, and actually take in the fact that if you’re not feeling the love, it's not love."
Image Source: Imran Nuri
Image Source: Imran Nuri

 

14. "Do what you want to do"

"Just do what you want to do. Don't do things just because other people tell you to. There have been a lot of times when I didn't do what I wanted to and that was the right thing to do. But also I look back on times when I listened to other people and then I think, "Man, imagine if I had just done what I wanted to do." Also you should never play down to the competition. If you're nasty at what you're doing, be nasty. Don't play down to their level."
Image Source: Imran Nuri
Image Source: Imran Nuri

 


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Imran Nuri (@nuristudios)


 

 

15. Don't work too hard. Focus on human connections. 

"I wish throughout my life I wouldn’t have worked as many hours because I missed out on a lot of things. When I got sick, I lost everything, but having nothing gave more than I’ve ever had in my life. I’m homeless and I have no car, but I never sleep in the street, I never go without food, and I always have a couple bucks for a beer every day. Having less is more. The biggest thing in the world you can have is human connection. Without somebody else to live with, nobody would want to be here."
Image Source: Imran Nuri
Image Source: Imran Nuri

 


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Imran Nuri (@nuristudios)


 

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