Introducing you to the Humans behind the ‘Humans of’ projects
With the intention of creating a “photographic census” of New York City, self-taught street and portrait photographer Brandon Stanton, 28, has unintentionally turned his humble Humans of New York hobby into a world-wide movement.
As per his site, “I thought it would be really cool to create an exhaustive catalogue of the city’s inhabitants, so I set out to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers and plot their photos on a map. I worked for several months with this goal in mind. But somewhere along the way, HONY began to take on a much different character. I started collecting quotes and short stories from the people I met, and began including these snippets alongside the photographs. Taken together these portraits and captions became the subject of a vibrant blog, which over the past two years has gained hundreds of thousands of followers.
“I studied History at the University of Georgia. During my senior year of college, 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. I traded for three years. 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. Mom wasn’t too happy about that decision, but so far it’s gone pretty well. I’ve taken nearly 5,000 portraits and written 50 stories. And I’ve met some amazing people along the way.”
The Humans of New York project is fast approaching half a million followers across its respective social media platforms, and though Stanton is “broke [and] lives very cheaply” he is insistent that the project must not “be means to achieve a lifestyle. I want it to be a lifestyle in itself.”
Since Humans of New York’s inception a year and a half ago, what initially started as a personal blog has spawned almost 30 projects in the same vein in every corner of the globe.
Like the encounters Stanton posts on his Facebook page, other relations of the ‘Humans of’ series tend to focus more on a story – whether that be of an individual or a wider social climate – rather than an impervious editorial image.
TheVine has been following the projects’ congenial, candid images across the world, and to gain insight into the individuals driving the worldwide project, we caught up with the people behind the San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Indian, Fiji Islands, Karachi and Sydney editions.
It is rare in journalism that all of a story’s sources present an overwhelmingly unifying perspective, but every person behind their respective projects had a strikingly similar take on their ‘Humans of’ ingemination – to evoke shared experiences, collective compassion and how as people we should celebrate commonalities rather than spotlight divergence.
What is also special about the projects is that like all socially driven applications, the ‘Humans of’ provide equitable snippets into overwhelming current affairs – Humans of New York documented Hurricane Sandy, raising over $100,000 for the storm’s fall out, for example, and over the weekend Humans of Tel Aviv has posted shots of civilians attempting to protect themselves from the area’s contentious situation.
Truly, it was humbling, humanising and inspiring to speak to people from the world’s most distinct alcoves, all of whom were terrifically committed to delivering content that, above all else, was filled with honesty, integrity and provided some small insight into our collective humanity.