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Humans of New York: The Story Behind the Project

If you’ve ever considered dropping everything, packing a couple suitcases, and moving to a new city to pursue your dreams, let photographer Brandon Stanton be your inspiration.

Stanton moved to New York City in 2010 with two suitcases and a goal: take 10,000 photographs. Originally, he planned on taking a photographic census of the Big Apple’s inhabitants by shooting portraits and plotting them on a map. Thousands of photos and several months later, Stanton realized his project had morphed into something different–something with stories and feelings. He showcased the quotes and stories of the people he met alongside their portraits on the Facebook page he created called Humans of New York:

Stanton’s Humans of New York page now has over 2.8 million followers. Many of his fans are inspired and awed by his work, others simply follow him because they are interested in the personal stories of New Yorkers.

Stanton strives to make a real human connection with each of his subjects. Rather than simply snapping a quick portrait, he talks to each person, asking such questions as, “Do you remember the happiest moment of your life?” and “What’s your greatest challenge right now?” or simpler queries like “What’s the hardest part about math?” or “So, you really have plain looking underwear?”

By engaging his subjects in conversation, he discovers their interests, beliefs, worries, and joys–all of which are reflected in their faces in his portraits.

“I think, you know, we walk down the street and we see all these people and we do kind of wonder about their stories…the celebrations and the victories, and that’s what people are engaging with.”

Stanton continues to update his Facebook page and his blog of featured stories (which he turned into a #1 New York Times Bestseller book last October) with portraits of New Yorkers every day.

What started as a simple idea for a photography project grew into an inspirational book and blog through the hard work of a single photographer and social media. So, what are Stanton’s plans for the future of Humans of New York?

“What I really hope to maintain is the culture of positivity…of celebrations, support…that is what people share.”

[via PictureCorrect Photography Tips]

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