Ty Morin's facebook friends

Tania Mejia (left) and Toni Figuredo. (Photos: Friend Request: Accepted)

A photographer's simple idea is turning into the project of a lifetime. Ty Morin's new goal is to meet every person listed as a "friend" on Facebook — all 788 of them — and take their portraits.

Social media's primary intention is to connect us to our friends on a different level and to help us extend our social circles. As social platforms are used as much for keeping track of everyone — from the loosest connections to deeper relationships — we can lose touch with people on every level, making the idea of "knowing someone" or even "friendship" more nebulous. Morin's project is putting an end to this — at least for his social network.

Justin weightlifter"The goal of this project is to reconnect with people," writes Morin on his Kickstarter page. "No more hiding behind the screen of social media. Stop looking down at your phone and pretending you're texting your BFF when you walk by an old friend from high school. Let's get out there and remind people what it's like to have a face to face conversation with someone."

Using an old 8x10 camera, a lot of film and a good dose of commitment, Morin has set a pace of creating five portraits a week of people doing something they're passionate about. That's five portraits a week ... for about the next three years. (That's Morin's friend Justin McGregor at right.) He is also filming the entire endeavor with the goal of making a Sundance-worthy documentary.

On why he selected a rather cumbersome camera: "It can be a pain in the ass sometimes, but it also allows me to spend time with these people. Each portrait takes about an hour to complete. If I were to shoot this with a digital camera, I would be in and out in two minutes — that's barely enough time for a handshake. My journey will consist of plane tickets, train tickets and a lot of fuel. All that traveling calls for more than just a hello."

In other words, this project is about more than just portraiture. The photo is an excuse to get to know a real person — many of whom have made it to "friend" status but who he has yet to meet in person. There are few better ways to learn about a person than to spend time with them whey they're doing what they love most. Morin's concept puts himself and his subjects in a unique position to actually become friends — either again or for the first time.

Morin's project has already surpassed its funding goal on Kickstarter, showing that there are a lot of people who want to add a personal touch back to social media, and to put meaning back into the word friend. If you're interested in helping him on this incredible road trip, and getting a piece of the project as a thank-you gift in return, check out his Kickstarter project page. You can also view more updates on Morin's Tumblr profile.

Related on MNN:

Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.

Photographer sets out to meet his Facebook friends -- in person
Ty Morin started a crowdfunding campaign to meet almost 800 people — but he also kickstarted a conversation about the meaning of 'friends.'