Every week in Maria’s weekly newsletter publication The Sunday Paper, we honor individuals who use their voices, their hearts, and their minds to Move Humanity Forward.
This week, we honor Brandon Stanton as our Architect of Change of the Week. Brandon is the visionary behind the wildly popular digital photo platform Humans of New York. Brandon’s philosophy is that every person has a story and that we need to hear those stories so that we can better understand one another. Through his use of media, Brandon is giving us insight into who we are as human beings, and that is indeed Moving Humanity Forward.
1. “When I first began Humans of New York, a lot of skeptics asked me: ‘Why would anyone care about the stories of ordinary people?’ Most photography and journalism at the time seemed to focus on people who were famous or successful. I think the success of HONY shows that anyone can be interesting if you really know their story. Interestingly, the stories that I post of famous people tend to get the least engagement. I think the audience really values the randomness and anonymity of the subjects.”
2. “I try to focus on the person in front of me, and how to best tell their story. Paradoxically, the more narrow my focus, the more wide-ranging HONY’s impact has become. But even as I travel more, and the audience becomes more international, I still try to avoid forming a ‘higher narrative’ about the collection of people I’ve interviewed. For me, it’s all about the next person’s story.”
3. “I’ll give you a recent photo that really moved me. I’m in Argentina right now, and I was taking a coffee break at a Buenos Aires Starbucks. I was about to head back out to work, when I saw a woman sitting alone. I normally only approach people on the street, but something told me to ask her for an interview. I think the power of the story is self-evident. As opposed to being a unique case, it’s representative of what happens to me every day. I’m constantly being amazed by the lives and narratives of randomly chosen people.”