free hugs in vilnius
This Saturday the Free Hugs Campaign was brought to Vilnius by Fabrice the fabulous Frenchman. The nice people over at Laimikis brought this to public attention, and they also said they could use some photos. So I grabbed a friend, and more importantly, his camera, and went out to shoot some hugs.
I took close to 300 pictures, out of which about 30 came out presentable. They are all on my Flickr page, and here are three (to make all the numbers match) I especially like:
When I asked Fabrice why he had decided to do this here in Vilnius, he said he had done it twice in Siberia, so Vilnius was bound to be easier. Which is a strange answer, but what do you expect from a guy who gave out hugs to frowning people in furs.
We walked around the two main squares of town, the eleven huggers with their signs and me with my camera, making people laugh, squirm, run away, nudge each other, and swear at us (just a couple times), and experienced the city like never before.
We hugged tourists who spoke different languages, children who looked shyly to their mothers for permission, old people whose eyes shone at being happily addressed by youngsters, salesmen who gave us small sweets and gifts for every hug…
We advertised more than Juan Mann, the inventor of Free Hugs, would probably recommend, but then we live in a much colder climate. So we followed people asking them for hugs, and said time and time again: ‘Come on, it’s absolutely free!’
At some point we stopped for some tea/milk/cake at the Milk Bar, and when we came out, it was already getting dark. So I packed the camera away and took a hug sign. Hugging a stranger is like having an epiphany – intense, and different every time.
And then, for the first time ever, a local newspaper published a photo I took that day, and I realized that it’s all about being there when it happens. This simple effort will bring me so much closer to everything I’ve ever dreamed of. You too, probably.
Thank you Laimikis, and thanks to everyone who did this. Meeting all you guys and watching the things you did was so much inspiration.
Update: my friend Mark has posted almost every picture I shot with his camera here. Check them out, if you like.