HUMANS of NEW YORK
Humans of New York is a phenomenon that, in the last couple of years, has taken the internet by storm. A few years ago, Brandon Stanton, then a young man in his mid-20s, started a what he then thought was a journey across America, photography along his way. When he came to New York, he planned on only staying in the city for a week, and ended up staying for the whole summer. The people and places he was finding were so interesting, he had to photography everything.
Stanton started out by posting his photos onto Facebook, creating albums on his personal account with all the photos taken in one specific place, i.e. one for Chicago, another for San Francisco, etc. He started out by taking photos of people and places, but he discovered the photos of people were much more interesting. He started asking the people questions, and attached funny or thought-provoking quotes to the photos. However, it wasn't until one of his close friends encouraged him that he began a separate page for his New York photographs. He'd taken hundreds of photos, and hadn't received much attention at all, and so he began a new public page on Facebook entitled 'Humans of New York.'
At first, HONY was still under the radar, only receiving maybe 1 new fan per day. However, as more and more people started sharing the page, soon HONY was gaining 10s of followers per day. Now, the Facebook page as up to 3.4 million likes. Along the way, Stanton also started a blog page, which has been extremely successful, as well as his book he brought out last year, which sold out within weeks.
The thing that inspires me most about HONY is the fact that Stanton isn't doing it solely as a business venture. Sure, something needs to pay the bills, but it's his passion that drives him, and the fact that he's doing what he loves every single day, though sometimes it can be exhausting. The connections he creates with the people he meets, however fleeting, are more often than not intimate. The conversations he has with the person make his photography even more poignant, and can have the ability make you laugh or cry in heightened emotion. The first time I discovered his blog, I spent days scrolling through the photos and quotes, never wanting to stop reading about all of these interesting people.
Stanton's ability to recognise these fascinating people is amazing, and the fact that he's so young makes this whole concept more impactful. I have always loved HONY as a project, and it hits home with me in more than a visual aspect. I have been deeply moved by some of the HONY works, and I shall continue to draw inspiration from the project, as well as follow the project on its untold course.