Humans Of New York Stories
Fans of Brandon Stanton's photojournalism are in for a real
treat. As you may recall, he set out on an audicious quest: to
capture with his camera the myriads of folks who tend to swarm unseen
through the Big Apple. Well the man has photographed over ten
thousand. The first fruits of his labor was a blog that now has more
than 15 million followers. Then there was his first really excellent
Humans Of New York book. This follow up volume has more narrative.
The color photographs are the focus of the book. Some show
people in groups like three teen age girls posing with their lacrosse
sticks. (It's not their fault the team lost. They weren't put in the
game). Some are of parents and children like a man holding his young
strawberry blonde daughter. (Everything about his girls makes him
proud). Of course you have couples. A man who probably wasn't
expecting to has found the love of his life. Individuals are shown in
full body shots, head shots, or close ups of a tell tale detail like a
hand holding a cigarette.
People of all ages, genders, socioeconomic statuses,
ethnicities, countries of origin...anything you can imagine are
An 86-year old woman thinks her time should be up...especially
since she misses her husband so much. A child in a pint size pilot's
outfit declares plans to grow up to be a teacher. A bearded man
declares his rage at having to live in a world that contains a lot of
morons. A philosophy professor advises readers to not judge their
fellow human beings by moral codes they can't follow themselves. A
smiling girl acolyte guides a church procession down a street full of
oblivious looking people dwarfed by tenements.
Some of the most touching stories have a two or three picture
series. There are three pictures of a very professionally dressed
man. The first is a full body shot. We learn about his feelings on
learning of his now grown son's serious disability and his anger at
people agonizing over their perfectly healthy son maybe being gay.
The second shows him from the chest up. You learn of how including a
very fragile, high needs member has effected his family. Flip the
page and you see his hands holding a picture of his son who lives in a
group home and goes home on weekends. His narrative ends with the
words, "I know he understands that we are important to him. And I
know that he understands he is important to us."
Humans Of New York Stories is a seriously gift quality volume, a
birthday or anniversary present that will long be treasured. If, like
me, you can't afford it, make sure your local public library purchases
it. You will be far from the only patron who benefits from this fine
On a personal note, I am still working toward photojournalism. I do
fine on approaching and interviewing people. I have a lot to learn,
though on the photography part. I aspire in the not too distant
future to do a book on couples who have been married over 50 years.
A great big shout out goes out to photojournalists like Stanton who
realize that most of the truly fascinating people in the world are far
from rich and famous.
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod