When people feel they need a change of pace in their life, they move to New York City. People from all walks of life inhabit this island, from all over the world. More often than not, people come here looking for two things: change and chance. What they ultimately walk away is what they were looking for, like experiences, opportunities, and life changes, but it’s usually ones that they had never intended to find, never even dreamed of.
Meet Brandon Stanton: photographer, author, and creator of the blog Humans of New York, whose Facebook has more “likes” than the population of people living in all five boroughs of New York City. Stanton moved to NYC after losing his job as a bond trader in Chicago, with no plans whatsoever. As you can imagine, his mother wasn’t too happy with this decision.
Out of pure interest and curiosity in humanity and photography, Stanton began asking questions to New Yorkers about their lives, dreams, and fears, snapping photographs of them, and sharing the results with the world through his blog and social media platforms. Unintentionally, his blog became a wild success. The short stories that accompanied each of his photographs left a powerful impact on readers. Stanton never intended to meddle in the lives of any New Yorker. With not much thought put into what would come of all of this, Stanton continued asking questions and snapping photographs of people that intrigued him.
Here’s an example of what happened when Stanton decided to photograph a boy on the streets in Brownsville, Brooklyn, and ask him, “Who is your biggest influence?”
A photograph of Vidal Chastanet, a 13-year-old from Brownsville, Brooklyn, which has the highest crime rate in the city, went viral after Chastanet said that his principal was the biggest influence in his life. The attention it gained helped Stanton raise nearly $1 million for Mott Hall Bridges Academy, where Chastanet is in sixth grade.
Following this, Brandon became a New York Times best-selling author, danced with Ellen on the Ellen DeGeneres show, met President Barak Obama, and photographed humans in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia on a United Nations-commissioned tour. His mom might not have been thrilled when he left his life in Chicago, but we can’t imagine she’s too upset about his decision to do so now.
So, why do we think Stanton is a “Notable New Yorker?” It’s because, at the end of the day, he is yet another example of a New York success story. He exemplifies the glimmer of hope that NYC is associated with; the reason that people flock here—- to find opportunities and experiences that will change their lives forever.