It all began when photographer Brandon Stanton lost his bond trading job in Chicago and moved to New York City without much of a plan. Initially, he wanted to create a massive collection of portraits, cataloging a large portion of NYC’s inhabitants. Soon, however, he discovered he was much more interested in the individuals and their stories than creating an exhaustive compendium of people.
So he began the blog Humans of New York, which showcases his portraits, coupled with a poignant quote from the subject. The blog is wildly popular and currently has more likes on Facebook than there are people living in all five boroughs of New York City. In 2013, Stanton published a book of his work and it quickly became a bestseller.
Stanton is currently on a United Nations-commissioned tour to photograph the humans of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Since Stanton’s blog has thousands of portraits on it, we did you a favour and compiled his most talked about posts of the last 12 months (using Best of Tumblr), so you can become more acquainted with the humans of New York.
'What's your biggest dream for your child?' 'We'll let him dream for himself.' (New Delhi, India, September 2014)
'She speaks more languages than anyone in the family. Because she plays with all the children in the street.' (Erbil, Iraq, August 2014)
'I found him in the trash. I named him Shadow because he followed me everywhere.' (New York City, July 2014)
'I did 8.5 years on an attempted murder charge.' 'What happened?' 'Some thirty-year-old dude kept harassing my twelve-year-old sister. He'd wait outside her school and invite her to parties. So I tried to kill him.' (New York City, June 2014)
'Saddest moment? How am I supposed to choose between losing my parents and seeing my friends die in Vietnam? I don't categorize those things. Listen, a person is like a rubber band ball. We've all got a lot of bad rubber bands, and a lot of good rubber bands, and they're all wrapped up together. And you've got to have both types of bands or your rubber band ball ain't gonna bounce. And no use trying to untangle them. You know what I'm saying?' (New York City, May 2014)
'His owner told me that according to a Native American myth, dogs with different coloured eyes can see both heaven and earth.' (New York City, April 2014)
'A coworker asked for my number the other day. My friends overheard and said: 'He must have a thing for Indians.' I was like, 'Or maybe I'm just really f***ing cool.'' (New York City, March 2014)
'When I was 19, my girlfriend and I were going to study in Paris. Our boyfriends came to the docks to see us off. Right as we were getting on the ship, my friend's boyfriend said to her: 'If you go, I won't wait for you.' So she turned around and decided to stay. My fiance saw this and told me: 'I won't wait for you either.' I said: 'Don't!'' (New York City, January 2014)
'I've got a whole stack of books in my cart. Most of them are advance copies. I know a place where they get thrown out.' 'How many books have you read?' 'Thousands.' 'So why are you homeless?' 'I've tried to work a job a bunch of times. But then I get sad, and then I get high, and things fall apart.' (New York City, December 2013)
'I used to be a preschool teacher, but I got fired.' 'What happened?' 'Well, I decided that I wanted to have a socially conscious class. So we learned about apartheid in South Africa. Then we learned about homelessness. Then we made Mother's Day cards for Trayvon Martin's mum. And I think the principal decided that it was too much for three- and four-year-olds, because she told me I wasn't a 'good fit.' But honestly, I was just shining too bright for them. And now she's going to see me on Humans of New York, and she'll be sorry!' (New York City, November 2013)
'My daughter lives in Pennsylvania. She's working at a nursing home and studying to be an accountant. She's my pride and joy.' 'Does she know you're homeless?' 'No, she's got enough to worry about. I just tell her that I'm retired.' (New York City, October 2013)
'I write in my journal everyday.' 'Why's that?' 'So much happens in life, I think it's good to live it again and get some distance from it. Or else everything is in a muddle, like on a merry-go-round.' (New York City, September 2013)
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