A friend of my daughter’s told me about a website called Humans of New York. She knows that I write a blog about strangers and she thought I would be interested in Brandon Stanton’s work. To me, he’s like a comrade out in the world and, while we might never meet, we are in the same field. We have an intense interest in capturing the lives of others and connecting people to one another.
Brandon had been a bond trader in Chicago before moving to New York with a camera and a goal to “set out to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers and plot their photographs on a map.” That was his plan when he began, but his project gradually took on a life of its own and soon he was collecting quotes that people told him as well as short stories they shared about themselves.
Due to his vision he now has over fourteen million likes on Facebook. He told the Huffington Post when they interviewed him: “A lot of times I ask these people very personal questions and they’ll answer. They’ll tell me everything because a lot of times I’m the only one who’s ever asked. I can tell when I talk to them—eight million people in this city, and nobody’s ever asked about their life.”
On another interview he talked about how it isn’t always easy to photograph someone because sometimes they don’t want to be photographed. When that happens he just deals with it and goes on to the next person.
Thanks, Brandon, I’ll keep this in mind when somebody doesn’t feel like talking to me. I’ll remember your advice because there are a lot of people who would like to talk about their lives if someone would just listen. I’m that someone—and so are you.