"Portraits of the Jersey Shore" is an incredible photography project that shares photos and stories of random people who live, work, and play at the Jersey Shore.

Founder Gregory Andrus recently stopped by the station to talk about it and interview some Townsquare Media employees to include in his work!

It truly was an honor to be photographed and interviewed for Portraits of the Jersey Shore, and incredibly difficult to edit down my interview with Gregory to just under 8 minutes!

He has an uncanny ability to make people feel instantly comfortable, and he truly is an incredible person. His sole mission is to seek people out and listen to them, and learn their stories, because as he says, "everyone has a story."

My favorite part of my chat with him was kind of what sums up the whole concept of Portraits of the Jersey Shore:

"Every single person that I meet has dignity...whether it's a person who's living in someone's car because they're strung out on heroin at 21 years old ... or if their sprawling on the street in Atlantic City and they're dying because of alcoholism, or if it's somebody who, you know, is a local celebrity...Whatever their story is, regardless, it's sacred to me. ... There's nothing that is irrelevant or undignified, because their stories matter."

Gregory himself has an inspiring story, one that includes his own battle with alcoholism and dealing with homelessness, along with a near-death experience that led him to become a devout Christian. Still through that, he says wants people to know that he is there to truly listen to them, share their story with the world, and never judge anything they may tell him.

He adds that his 8,000+ followers on social media are also uniquely accepting and open-minded of every portrait and story featured, and that it is genuinely an encouraging community. He also talks about his great relationships with other admins behind various "Humans of..." photography pages.

Portraits of the Jersey Shore will also be featured in an exhibit at the Toms River Library in January, with 22 prints hung on the walls, accompanied by the corresponding stories. Additionally, on January 7th from 2-4 p.m., Gregory will hold a meet and greet event, and share a short documentary film that will share his own unbelievable story.

As for going through the experience of being the subject of one of the portraits, it truly was one of the most amazing things I've ever done. It's eye-opening, emotional, inspiring, and powerful. Gregory is featuring me and four of my coworkers on his page, and you can see the full transcripts of the stories on the POTJS Facebook page HERE and find out more his website, portraitsofthejerseyshore.com.

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