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October 11, 2013

Humans of New York

by Ruth Chung

New York City: a place bursting with color, spirit, purpose, and, of course, a profusion of stories. From the most resolute of businessmen to the most wild of dancers to the most ordinary of construction workers to the most peculiar of street beggars, NYC has it all. And in the summer of 2010, Brandon Stanton set out in an attempt to capture portions of this essence in pictures. What was produced from his attempt was a blog, a website, full of portraits of the unique individuals of New York City.
But beyond the photographs, what makes Stanton’s website especially striking is the story behind each photo. Stanton discovers the story behind each photograph—behind each person. After taking a photograph of a person, he asks him or her questions such as, “What was the saddest moment of your life?” and “If you could give some advice to a large group of people, what would it be?” Although many questions are repeated, the unbelievable variety in responses received goes to show the incredible depth and the width of human beings. And it is just this that Stanton aims for—a capturing of a piece of the deepest part of who each person is.

There are some examples of a few captions that ring in my memory: under a photograph of a man holding flowers, it reads, “’Sometimes, when I’m going home to see her, I think: ‘Nobody should be this happy on a Tuesday.’’” Under a picture of a little girl with bouncing strawberry blonde hair grinning from ear to ear, it reads, “I’ve got my own nail polish. It’s mine!” Of a clean-cut businessman, sitting on the sidewalk: “I’m trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.” Of an extreme muscle-man, with tattoos up and down his arms: “My idol is the hulk.”

Stanton’s blog has gained over a million followers over the years. In result, he has recently created a book that has a collection of over 400 people’s photographs and stories. It will be released October 15 at select Barnes and Nobles but can be ordered on Amazon.com, as well as pre-ordered for a 40% discount. A New York magazine says about it: “The images are gorgeous, and the effect is like walking through a version of the city where startlingly honest thought bubbles appear over everyone’s heads.”
Stanton’s blog can be found at the following website: www.humansofnewyork.com, where photographs and pictures can be read about all over and more information on the book can be found. Check it out! The stories and photographs help give thousands of people a louder voice, and enable us to experience an instance of somebody else’s life, reminding us daily how vast of a world we live in.

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