Sunday, April 17, 2016

Discovering New York

Anyone that has a Facebook has most likely been exposed to one of Brandon’s fantastic blogs. Brandon Stanton is an American photographer and blogger most famously known for being the founder and sole photographer/writer of Humans of New York. He has always let his passion take him on crazy life adventures. To quote him directly, “I get really passionate about things. At some time in my life, I’ve been obsessed or borderline-obsessed with saltwater aquariums, the baritone euphonium, reading, piano, filming, financial markets, New York City, and photography…. I took out $3,000 in student loans and bet it on Barack Obama to win the presidency. A friend heard about this bet and got me a job trading bonds on the Chicago Board of Trade… It went really well for a while. But then it went really bad. Whoops. After I lost my trading job, I decided to move to New York City and take portraits of strangers on the street.”

 It takes a special kind of person to be willing to uproot his life every time a new passion comes along. This is the textbook definition of intrinsic motivation. He doesn’t care about wealth or fame. His only goal is to follow his passion, which is currently Humans of New York. What is especially impressive is that he had been studying history in college before he was offered a job on the Chicago Board of Trade, a field not even slightly related to history. It takes an incredibly flexible and creative mind in order to be able to make that transition. And to top it all off he then lost his job and followed his newest passion with absolutely no financial security.

Brandon started the Humans of New York Facebook page in November of 2010. His initial plan had been to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers and plot their portraits on a map of the city. After some time he had shifted his purpose and began holding full blown interviews of the people he photographed and including them in his blog posts. The posts quickly grew famous on social media and his page now has over twenty million followers on social media. On top of that, his book, Humans of New York, reached the #1 position on the New York Times Non-Fiction Best Sellers a month after it was published. So what makes an age-old practice of interviewing people gain so many followers?

What makes his work beautifully creative is the culture in which he operates. New York has a reputation of being one of the colder cities in the world and Brandon is on a mission to turn up the heat. As he puts it, “It’s the taking an atmosphere of fear and strangeness and uncomfortableness, and turning that into an atmosphere of intimacy where people feel comfortable to disclose in a very short amount of time.” Not only is his work creative, it acts as a platform for which people can share their creativity and uniqueness. People are allowed to express themselves to the masses through his interviews and photographs. Here’s a video of how he approaches strangers on the streets of New York and gets to asking them the very personal questions that make it into his blog. 



  1. I am a big fan of Brandon's work. I think it is really great because it is a portal that allows people all over the world to learn about other people all over the world. Humans of New York really shows how diverse the city of New York really is. It gives insights into people's lives and shows that appearances don't mean anything. Some of the stories he has told are truly unexpected and humbling. I also really love that Brandon has also traveled to various countries to tell stories of those who do not have a voice. One of my favorites is when Brandon interviewed various Syrian refugees. It is clear that his work is truly creative because his idea has been copied many times since he has started, for example, the facebook page "Humans of LUC".

  2. Brandon's work is a fun way to get a taste of what it is like to live in different places. New York is a very diverse place, and his idea offered people a way to get to know different areas of the city. These areas often have difference equivalent to living in different countries. When he started adding the interviews, it took his work to the next level. That is why people love to read his posts.

  3. I've seen the "Humans of New York" posts on my Facebook for years now, but I had never taken the time to learn about the man behind the camera. I agree that he really does define intrinsic motivation, and I could not believe how he would completely uproot and change his entire life just to pursue a new passion. He clearly loves what he is doing if he is able to dedicate his whole life to his work. And people clearly love his work. You can really hear the passion through the words of his blog posts. Thanks for an interesting read!

  4. Thank you for sharing this post. For years now I have been seeing these "Humans of New York" posts and have continually been inspired by the people featured in the posts and the stories they share. It is interesting and insightful to hear about the work that goes into finding these people and capturing these moments and stories. Brandon definitely has a talent for framing these individuals in ways that are inspirational and inspiring. Thanks again for sharing the background and creative process behind this facebook page.


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