Recently I stumbled upon a blog (and Instagram and Facebook page) called Humans of New York (link here). Once I got sucked in, I could not tear myself away. I still cannot get enough of these portraits…I even bought the book. The photographer is a young man named Brandon Stanton. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very skilled, self-taught photographer. But that’s not what will pull you in. With each random subject he photographs on the street, he does a little interview. And that’s where the magic happens. Funny, endearing, inspiring, painful, beautiful, touching…there aren’t sufficient adjectives to describe his work. I’ve not been the same since I found this.
“What was the happiest moment of your life?”
“When I married Joe.”
“What was the saddest moment of your life?”
“When Joe died.”
“What was your favorite thing about Joe?”
“He was oh-so-romantic.”
“What’s the most romantic thing Joe ever did?”
“Let’s just say that he was good with his loving.”
“My dad was just a working class Irish dude. He drank himself to death when I was fifteen, but he was a good dad when he was sober. I remember him taking me to a gay wedding on Christopher Street to teach me tolerance. And that was back in 1971.”
“She always keeps her head when bad things happen. I’ve had a health scare recently, and she could easily have gone to pieces, but she’s stayed strong for me.”
“What’s the toughest thing you’ve ever gotten through together?”
“Our daughter was murdered eight years ago, and we’re still fighting it every single day.”
Stanton also finds well-dressed little people in posts called “Today in micro fashion.”
“What’s your favorite thing about being a grandmother?”
“What’s the most she’s ever made you laugh?”
“She just loves using her big words. Everything to her is ‘beeaaauuutttiiiful’ or ‘woooonnnddddeeerrful’ or ‘faaaannntttaaasstic.’”
Please take some time to wander around his site (or Instagram) or pick up his book. You won’t be sorry. You will be reminded time and again that every person you meet has a story — and everyone can be profound, humorous or wise in their own way. Stanton is amazing. He is making the world a better place every day, one person at a time.
Now I find myself looking beyond interesting people who I spot along my path. I find myself wondering about their story and saying to myself, “Oh! That’s a Humans of New York moment!” Take this for example.
I had the overwhelming urge to ask to take their photo from the front and find out a little more about them. So funny. Obviously I exercised some restraint and settled for this glimpse from behind. But it was my first glimpse into how much Stanton’s work has changed the way I view the world. And I really like it.
*Credit: all photos with the exception of the last were taken by Brandon Stanton and are from the Humans of New York website. Click on individual photos to link to original blog.