New York City is populated with millions of people that each serve as an essential piece of the city’s eclectic pie. The Big Apple’s offering of unique and diverse individuals is arguably unmatched. We always hear about what a melting pot this immense metropolis is with its endless supply of quirky characters and the ongoing photo series known as Humans of New York proves it.
Photographer Brandon Stanton, who originally hails from Georgia, first began HONY in 2010 as a personal project to capture portraits of 10,000 faces; a sort of photographic census of the city that never sleeps. After losing his job as a bonds trader in Chicago, he up and set out for New York City, settling in Brooklyn. He’s been taking pictures of people on the streets ever since. The diversity in race, religion, socioeconomic background, and fashion is immeasurable and entirely fascinating. Looking through the thousands upon thousands of photos from the ever-growing collection gives the impression of a world-traveling photographer, but it’s just Stanton in New York City.
It’s remarkable to see how big HONY has gotten in only two years and the life it has taken on on Facebook. Stanton simply publishes a few photos a day and within hours of uploading the images, people are already tagged and geo-mapped. While HONY has its own site, it’s on Facebook that it truly flourishes and audiences get a real sense of the photographer’s deeper intentions of making connections and telling stories, in addition to visually documenting the diverse people of New York.
We were lucky enough to get in contact with the dedicated photographer and ask him a few questions, which he kindly took the time to answer. You can read that interview, below, as you browse through only a fraction of the photos in his massive, growing series of work.
Can you walk us through a typical day for you?
Every morning I try to read for an hour then go to the gym. During the day I handle the administrative side of the blog: answering emails, managing posts, etc. The photography portion of my day lasts for three or four hours and normally occurs around sundown. My evenings are quiet, and usually spent with my girlfriend.
What is it about New York that cemented your decision to move to the Big Apple from Chicago? And, what inspired you to start this project?
When I visited New York during the summer of 2010, I was already pretty involved in street portraits already. So I was struck by all the people– both the amount of people and the diversity. I took about 600 portraits during my first visit, and realized that I had a pretty special collection of photographs. That’s when I began to think seriously about starting a blog. I moved back to Chicago, packed up my things, and came back to New York.
Do you feel like this project has helped you settle into New York City?
I’d say that it has more than helped me settle. HONY‘s pretty much dictated by entire NYC experience. It is the reason I came to the city, and it has consumed almost all of my time. I think one of the reasons HONY has been so successful is that I have been so single-minded in my devotion. For two years, I’ve given pretty much all of my energy to the blog.
How do you choose your subjects?
I try to keep my criteria as vague and undefined as possible, if only to increase the diversity in my photographs. I think the moment that you start looking for something in particular, your photos will begin to take on a certain common flavor. I try to keep an open mind when I’m out photographing, and document anything that catches my eye.
You had originally started this project with the intention of taking 10,000 portraits. Is this still the ultimate goal?
Not at all. In fact, I rarely refer to HONY as a “project” anymore, because that word implies something with a “fixed” end in mind. HONY is my work now, and I don’t have any plans to stop working.