Capturing The 'Humans Of New York,' And The World

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Brandon Stanton has a way of getting strangers to open up to him.

He routinely stops strangers on the streets of New York to take their photograph, and ask them questions — often deeply personal — about their lives.

He then posts those photographs, along with snippets from the interviews, on his wildly popular blog and Facebook page, Humans of New York.

Stanton was a novice photographer when he started Humans of New York in 2010. He had just lost his job as a bond trader in Chicago, and was trying to figure out what he wanted to do next.

In the last few years, he's gained more than 10 million followers online, and published a New York Times bestselling book, also called "Humans of New York."

More recently, he teamed up with the United Nations, and spent 60 days traveling the world, photographing and interviewing people in a dozen countries, including Iraq, Jordan, Mexico and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

And now he's just published a children's book, called "Little Humans."

Stanton joins Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson to talk about his project, how it's expanded and the memorable people he has met.

Interview Highlights: Brandon Stanton

On his favorite photo from "Little Humans"

“I always say that my favorite people to interview are the people who are at the beginning and the ends of their lives because they have two alternate perspectives of the world, and neither of them are less profound.

"The children are coming from a point of innocence and really old people are coming from a point of experience. They both say profound things drawing from these two different viewpoints.

"I photographed this little kid and he was dressed like Batman, and I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He said he wanted to be a police officer. I said, What’s going to be the best part of being a police officer? And he said, 'Finding out who made the mistakes.'”

On photographing people as part of a United Nations Tour

“What I realized that with people who don’t have security in their lives, or don’t have means to put food on the table, the mind kind of blocks out access to these other spheres of existence. Whether that be your hopes or your aspirations or even your memories. That was eye-opening to me.”

On his happiest memory

“The absolute most honest answer was when I found out the book was the number one New York Times best seller, because it was something that I really wasn’t expecting."

“For this book of photography that I barely got published, that I barely got a book deal for, to suddenly be the number one selling book in the country, it was just immediately a flood of release of all the frustration and hard work and loneliness that came out of chasing something crazy like this. I started crying in a parking lot and did that for a good hour. That was the happiest moment of my life.”


This segment aired on October 16, 2014.


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