Written by Anna Brannon. Media by Madison Moran.
One ripe summer day in 2010, Brandon Stanton took the bustling streets of New York City armed with a camera and a dream. What began as the desire to take pictures of interesting people developed into a vision for the creation of a photographic census of the humans of New York. Overtime, his project exploded through the support of social media and caught the attention of people around the globe.
Brandon Stanton grew up in Georgia, and received a history degree from the University of Georgia. After he risked taking out $3,000 in student loans and placing a bet that Barack Obama would win the presidency, a friend suggested that he try trading bonds in Chicago. Though it went well for a time, he ended up losing his job, and decided to pick up photography. In his book, Humans of New York, Brandon writes, “Two years of my life were spent obsessing over money, and in the end I had nothing to show for it. I wanted to spend the next phase of my life doing work that I valued as much as the reward.”
Each day, Brandon walks for miles through the city of New York and stops people for photographs. He typically tells them about his blog, asks their permission to take a picture, and then engages them in a brief conversation. When he posts the photos on his blog, he adds a short caption or piece from the conversation. This is what makes Brandon’s photography unique. In the captions, people are real. There is a vulnerable display of joy, of love and of pain. He himself notes that it’s not the pictures themselves that have captured society’s attention, but the stories of the people. Brandon’s original vision has evolved and now his goal is to post a few photos and stories each day to his blog for people to enjoy. [clear]He hopes to continue to do this for a long, long time.
The Humans of New York project has impacted Brandon, the people of the city, and the followers on social media in ways that no one could have anticipated. In January, a photograph of a boy named Vidal led to an Indiegogo fundraiser that collected more than 1.4 million dollars for his middle school, which is located in the neighborhood with the highest crime rate in NYC. This was used to create a fund that will enable the students to take a class trip to Harvard each year and will provide a few students with scholarships for future education.
On Facebook, Humans of New York has reached more than 12 million fans that continue to show their support for Brandon and his work. HONY reminds its followers that we are not the only people in the world, and everyone that we come into contact with has a story worth listening to. If you are interested in the story of HONY or viewing more of Brandon’s photos, you can visit humansofnewyork.com, find HONY on Facebook or Tumblr, or check out the copy of the book Humans of New York from the Ruby E. Dare Library.