Humans of New York enlights humans of the world

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Carly Perlmutter, Katie Oppenheim

To the left, founder of Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton, discusses how he came up with the idea of HONY, his new book, and his journey across the world. To the right, is an interview with a father and his daughter. The father tells Stanton, “She got The Politest Student of the Month Award.”

Carly Perlmutter and Katie Oppeneheim

How would you feel if a stranger approached you on the streets of New York City and asked to take a photograph of you? Excited? Maybe. Uncomfortable? Probably. Now imagine if this stranger began asking you highly personal questions. Would you answer them? If yes, then you are one of many people willing to be on Humans of New York (HONY).
HONY, created by photographer and blogger Brandon Stanton, illustrates the diversity and individuality of everyday people in the city. Over the past several years, the blog’s popularity has skyrocketed. Recently, Stanton spoke at the Barnes and Noble book store in Union Square, where we had the opportunity to hear about his journey firsthand.
Stanton began his work in the summer of 2010.  He now aspires to create a general census of New York City by using portraits of people in various areas of the city.  At first, he did not have any specific goal.  Rather, he simply found people’s appearance and authenticity captivating and wanted to work with it.  
Stanton was interested in the way people dressed and the energy they radiated. At first, his blog consisted purely of portraits of eccentrically dressed people.  One day, Stanton was home sick and did not get the opportunity to photograph anyone. Dedicated to maintaining his daily post schedule, Stanton decided to post an old picture on hand that he did not feel was his best work.  However, knowing that he had loyal followers to please, Stanton decided to caption the picture as a way of distracting his audience from the mediocre image quality.
Surprisingly, this portrait became his most “liked” and “shared” post thus far. From this incident, Stanton came to realize that people are not only interested in picture, but also in the stories behind them.  At the early stage, Stanton considered success as seeing several people “like” his Facebook page and appreciate his work.  However, his definition of the word broadened as more people began following posts. The blog that started as an innovative idea with few followers soon transformed into a New York Times best-selling book, appropriately titled Humans of New York.   
When Stanton interviews someone, his goal is to create a safe and comfortable environment for the reveal of personal stories.  Stanton believes that the interaction he has with the individual is far more essential than the photograph or quote itself. In Stanton’s opinion, the stories that are the most personal to the individual are also the most universal and relatable.   
Although initially focusing only on New York, HONY has recently expanded its horizons to include people from areas around the globe. Over the summer, Stanton visited fifty countries on a mission to explore how the lives of other people varied from those of New York City residents.  He found that, in contrast to New York City civilians, the people of these struggling countries could not focus on the past or the future, because of overwhelming present circumstances. were. 
Despite witnessing tragedy, Stanton remains hopeful for a bright future.
As Stanton says, “don’t wait for perfect,” because sometimes, unexpected events and complications may lead to an ending that exceeds your original expectations. Brandon Stanton’s efforts demonstrate that it does not take more than a simple idea to achieve success.