I’ve been a huge fan of Brandon Stanton’s “Humans of New York” work for about 4 years now. I first found out about his blog because it was advertised on my personal Tumblr dashboard. It was this photo.
I was intrigued. The look of this man’s face was honestly just pure happiness. For one minute of his life he was able to feel childlike and free. The blurry people in the background help achieve the feeling that this man was the only one that mattered. For one fleeting moment, he was the star of the show. I immediately wanted to know more of his story.
Since then, Stranton has been sharing bits and pieces of people’s stories from all over one of the world’s greatest cities, New York City. His goal is to create an interactive map of faces and to reach 10,000 photographs from every neighborhood, street, nook and cranny in NYC. He has currently met and recorded the stories of 5,000 citizens and visitors of the big apple.
It’s hard to describe what emotion his photos evoke in me. I always feel somewhere in between wonder and contentment. Stanton always knows what exactly to say and that’s the part I find most fascinating. What do I mean by that? Well, when Stanton takes a photo of a NYC citizen, he also has a chat with them. He discusses their biggest fear, their biggest regret, their advice to other “Humans of New York.” Stanton says that sometimes he talks with these strangers-turned-friends for an hour, about anything they like. What does he do with all of their wisdom they just handed to him? He takes a single thread in the quilt of stories they just weaved and he captions the photo. That’s it. Stanton’s work is so pure. So simplistic. Sometimes a single sentence, sometime’s just two or three words explain the Human in the photograph. And honestly I never question it. I never yearn to know more. His ability to capture the essence of a person so easily astounds me and it makes me wonder what kind of story I’m advertising about myself everyday. It makes me wonder what I could learn from the people around me right here in Farmington, Maine, if it’s apparently so easy to learn about a person with just a few simple words. That ability to capture the essence is exactly what I love about photography, and Stanton does it ever so delicately and elegantly.