Last week, Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York announced that he was holding two free events at Cine Adarna at the University of the Philippines on February 3, 2018. Of course, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to meet the man behind one of the most famous photography projects of this day and age.
Nine years ago, Brandon shared how he lost his job and decided what he really wanted to do with his life. His love for photography led him to what Humans of New York is now based on.
“I spent the previous two years of my life spending all my time trying to think about making money.”
He told us how he first wanted to save money and gain security, and then later enjoy his life. But he ended up the complete opposite: jobless, without any money in his pocket nor an inch of so-called security to cover him.
“We spend our time trying to collect the approval of others, the respect, and the feelings of importance, and we don’t even realize that time itself is more valuable than all of those things,” he said.
Brandon realized that time was the most valuable thing to him. Spending time in ways that were important like making time for the people he loved, giving back to the world, and doing something that made him happy.
“We only have one life so I made a decision – it was a small change but it was a very important one. It was trying to make money but just enough money to where I owned my time. I wanted to make enough money to eat, to have a roof over my head, and to be able to do what I loved all day long. At that time, what I loved to do was photography,” he shared.
Brandon went on to share about the first time he bought a camera, a Canon EOS 7D, and how he started doing photography eight years ago. He even shared the first photos he ever took, as well as the first photo he ever took of a people.
“I was out in Chicago taking a photograph and I remember seeing this scene – I thought it was so beautiful because these kids did not know each other and have never spoken to each other before but they were both looking up and they had the same exact look on their face,” he told the audience.
“It was such a great little poetry of childhood – I wanted to take it so bad but I was so nervous because I didn’t know if I was allowed or not. I slowly pulled my camera up from my lap and I snapped a picture, you can even see the mom looking into the lens with a smile,” he added.
In that moment, Brandon was proud of himself because he had gotten over the fear of approaching strangers. “Because I had gotten over that fear, I was able to capture a photo – a moment – that someone who has been photographing for 20 years might not be able to take,” he said.
“I remember looking at that first photo and thinking that I probably don’t have time because I started out so late. But maybe I could become the best person in the world at stopping people and taking their picture. After this moment, that was the path that I went down,” Brandon shared.
He then went on to give advice to the audience: “You cannot wait for the perfect idea before you do something with your life. People keep trying to think of the perfect idea before they finally start working. The problem with this is that the moment never comes. If I waited for the idea of Humans of New York, I never would have started Humans of New York.”
“All I knew was that I wanted to photograph all day. At that time, this was the best idea that could possibly draw attention to my photography and sell my work,” Brandon said.
He also shared about how he called up people he knew to sell his photos, as well as how he reached out to people on social media to like his photography page. “Everything else happened because of hundreds of small ideas and moments that I encountered while I was doing what I loved.”
“Humans of New York can barely even be described as a photography blog anymore. It’s much more about the stories – the photography is only secondary to the story itself. It’s about stopping a random person in a short amount of time and making that person comfortable enough to share a story about their life. This is the Humans of New York that I risked everything for.”
Brandon also shared some of the most memorable photos that he has posted on Humans of New York: From the first time he ever included the story of a stranger in a photo, to encountering some of the heaviest stories he has heard, learning about how his followers had organized their own fundraising project for one of the people he posted about, to being able to sit down with former US President Barack Obama.
"So do you do a different color every day?""No, I used to go through different stages. But then I found that I was happiest when I was green, so I've been green for 15 years."
“When the last kid left for college, it came to a point where it was just pretense. And I couldn’t hide it anymore. I…
“Last month I had an accident that destroyed my tractor, and now my life has been ruined. I’d saved for that tractor…
“Who has influenced you the most in your life?”“My mother. She had me when she was 18 years old, and my father left…
In the past eight years, Humans of New York has not only become a photography project but it is now so much more – it evolved into a platform featuring several journalistic photo series about prisoners, refugees, pediatric cancer patients, among many others.
In 2017, Brandon also released an online television series called Humans of New York: The Series. He shares that it is a project that he worked on for four years to show the magic that was happening on the streets – of people being so real – and recording them in those moments.
Featuring interviews with couples of all ages, this episode explores the joys and difficulties of being in a relationship.
โพสต์โดย Humans of New York: The Series บน 13 กันยายน 2017
For more stories and photos, you may check out Humans of New York.