Synopsis and Review:
Working up the courage to speak with strangers on the street is not easy. Imagine doing it over and over again. Now imagine actually asking their permission to share their life stories with millions of people around the globe. Many people would definitely refuse your proposal. I have personally tried approaching strangers asking for their photos just for a school project and the successful rate was extremely low.
Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton is essentially a project of what I have described above. As the title of the book has stated, the author goes around New York trying to ask the people there to share their stories with people around the world. Started from a blog, this project has now travelled across social media platforms, eg Facebook and Instagram and has impressed millions of fans.
Regarding the content of the story, obviously each story is unique as it is about the interviewee’s life. What I love about this book is that Brandon Stanton has clearly asked different types of questions which help provoke various kinds of answers. Instead of, I would imagine, throwing the general question of ‘What’s your story?’ just like Augustus Waters would, Stanton actually changes his questions such that the stories are more diverse. From asking about the person’s dreams to his/her biggest regret, there is no area of a human’s life that the stories have not touched on.
This is certainly not easy and clearly shows Stanton’s experience as an interviewer and his quick judgment to guess what is most interesting about the person. It makes me wonder what story the person would have shared with the readers instead if Stanton has asked a different question. Would the story be more interesting? Or is this THE story of that person? The possibilities are endless.
The photographs also showcase how good Brandon Stanton is at capturing people’s stories. They are not just headshots or full body shots. Instead he captures the people’s stories through the photos. The photos alone are able to tell a lot about the interviewees’ stories. It is amazing to see New York City in his eyes. If you haven’t already, I highly suggest that you check out Humans of New York: Stories or the facebook page of this project. You would be amazed by how diverse human beings are.