Matt Roberts

Matt Roberts poses with his trusty bicycle and camera, constant tools over the last six years.

Matt Roberts came to Long Beach 10 years or so ago from England with little idea about how he wanted to continue a seemingly broken life.

He says he wanted to let folks "across the pond" experience some of what he was experiencing, so he bought a camera. But, he says, his lens was drawn more by the people of Long Beach than its vistas.

A blog called "Humans of New York" caught Roberts's eye — he was doing something similar in a far less orderly fashion. The blog from Brandon added anecdotes from the photographed people expanding the picture of New York.

"A year or so later, I noticed that other people around the globe were starting up Humans blogs of their own cities," Roberts says. "(I) decided it was high time my new hometown … deserved one too. So on Dec. 18, 2012, on an unusually cloudy day, I saddled up and set off armed with my camera and pretty much nothing else."

"Humans of Long Beach," a glossy hard-cover coffee table book, was the result. Roberts says he expects the first batch to arrive on Monday, Dec. 10, and is planning a book launch party the evening of Friday, Dec.14, at Made by Millworks.

"I'm almost shaking with excitement," Roberts says. "It's been a long road. I've taken pictures of literally thousands of people. I almost packed it in in the middle. But now it's done."

"Humans of Long Beach" focuses on people found on the streets of the city. Long Beach's great diversity is juxtaposed with its physical beauty and favorable climate. It stays true to Roberts's contention that every person has a story worth listening to.

There are introductions by Mayor Robert Garcia and community activist Justin Rudd. And each picture or group of pictures has text talking about the people portrayed there.

Roberts plans to sell the book for $35, with $5 of that going to a as-yet undetermined charity. 

"It will have something to do with helping the homeless, though," Roberts says. "I'm also planning on putting together a crowd-funder with investors receiving a book."

It can be purchased through https://igg.me/at/HOLB. If Long Beach residents purchase "Humans of Long Beach" at the site, Roberts said he would deliver the book personally and refund the $10 the site charges for shipping and handling.

The book launch party, at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at Made by Millworks, 240 Pine Ave., is open to the public. "Humans of Long Beach" will be available for purchase then.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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