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The New New Yorker
By Gretchen Gales
I don't remember where and when I discovered the photography blog Humans of New York (HONY), but now I know I couldn't go throughout the year without following the thousands adventures. It's a simple concept; a man with a camera roams the streets of New York City, asks them about their personal lives, and posts them to his blog. It's kind of creepy if you think about it, and under normal circumstances would. Yet many comb every street, avenue, boulevard, and alleyway to have their picture taken and their voice heard. To date, over 11 million people devour the compilation of NYC's "ordinary", vivacious, and adorable citizens. It showcases advice from the young and old. Each entry is as unique as the people in each photo. Sometimes they are humorous, other times heartbreaking. HONY captures the frustrations and concerns of our time. Though occasionally more familiar faces appear, HONY specializes in the power of authenticity and doesn't discriminate.
Brandon Stanton, the curator of thousands of stories and photographs, hardly sees himself as anything extraordinary. His beginnings, like so many he captures in his blog, are quite humble. While studying history at the University of Georgia, Stanton unknowingly began his career after taking out $3,000 in student loans and placing a bet on Barack Obama in the 2008 election. Shortly after he was given a chance at trading bonds for Gambit Trading in Chicago. When he became suddenly unemployed, Stanton took his camera and turned his hobby into a profession with one goal in mind. "I thought it would be really cool to create an exhaustive catalogue of New York City's inhabitants, so I set out to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers and plot their points on a map" as Stanton puts it on the"About" page of his blog.
Since then, he has become NYC's unofficial historian, traveled the globe (including his extended project in Iran), and supported charitable organizations. His project has spawned hundreds of similar photography projects such as Humans of Richmond and many others based off of locations and cultural ties. Recently, Stanton's collection of favorites have been published in book form by the same title for those, like this individual, that enjoy the crisp smell and touch of a physical book. The HONY book became a #1 New York Times bestseller in November of 2013 and later, the adaptation for children (featuring adorable children) titled Little Humans was also made available.
The project itself was intended to serve as a visual, interactive census, but has grown to be the representation of New York's true finest. It has become what a publication like The New Yorker could never give to its readers. It is the raw, unedited lives of members from all cultures, sexual orientations, ages, and social classes. It is does not limit its audience to those that only crave the classic sophistication of the city that people often associate with NYC. At a time, The New Yorker provided a glimpse into the lives of the refined, and strive to become. In contrast, HONY encourages being true to yourself and that asserting that everyone has something to offer the world. As a professor of mine put it, we place the subjects of the humanities because they help us to come to our own conclusions about the human experience and what it means to be human. With HONY, the human experience is filled with spontaneity, regret, joy, worries, desires, determination, heartbreak, romance, and even horizons once thought untouchable. As someone who is often told I have no future with an English degree (regardless of whether or not I mention my desire to teach), Stanton's story alone has made me more optimistic and proves that innovation and motivation morphs into an impact in the world. Though everyone has their own reasons of why they love HONY, the end result is the essence of connection and reuniting us as we are meant to embrace.
#Real #NewYork #NYC #HumansOfNY #BrandonStanton #History #Photography #Folklore #GeorgiaNative #Media
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