Hello everyone and welcome back to The Boss Book Club!
Today we are going to take a look at Humans of New York, a book of photographs by Brandon Stanton.
The Humans of New York project started in 2010 when Mr Stanton lost his employment as a bond trader. He had a camera and an interest in photography so he embarked on the ambitious project of photographing 10, 000 New Yorkians….
What initially began as a Facebook page eventually morphed into a blog, and through the power of social media its popularity skyrocketed around the world. The Humans of New York blog now has over 8 million followers (a few more than the Boss Book Club but hey, we’re getting there…). Stanton has since switched away from the 10,000 people goal post and is instead simply aiming to update the blog daily with a couple of portraits.
The huge popularity of the blog has lead to the release of the book, which contains a selection of Stanton’s photographs, as well as an introduction from Stanton himself.
This book is charming, interesting and inspirational on two fronts: the images themselves, and the quotes and stories that go alongside them.
In terms of photography content, there is a wide diversity of people on display. People from all ages, races, and gender are featured here. There are stand-alone shots, pictures of couples, group photos of neighbourhood communities and whole crowd shots. Even animals get featured alongside their Humans of New York counterparts!
A variety of New York backdrops are featured also, from abandoned parking lots, city skyscrapers, or neighbourhood slums, to subways, parks, gardens and the local fire station. I spent hours poring over the photographs and being inspired by the vibrancy of the subjects. The photographs are full of life, and all tell a story. In terms of style, there are some candid photographs, but most of the subjects are aware of the camera and are posing for it.
The text that accompanies each photograph is short: sometimes a few words only that state where the photograph was shot, other times a quote from the subject of the photo, other times a short story (2 or 3 lines) is given about that person or the circumstances in which the photograph was taken. At first I was put off by the text because I didn’t expect it. I expected a book of images only. Once I adjusted my thinking however, I found the quotes, and tales behind the photos incredibly enjoyable. It pulled me further in to the stories of the individuals, and drove me to turn the page to find out about the next person. I felt the text elevates the reading experience and gives you a stronger connection to the person who is being featured and their personality or history.
This book is a worthwhile purchase for anyone who wants to feel inspired. If you have a passion for fashion or styling hair, you will be inspired by this book. If you are fascinated by people, and the depth of human experience, you will love this book. If you are a writer, there is plenty of inspiration for characters or short stories, or if you love travel (or have been lucky enough to go to New York!) this will undoubtedly entice you to go there. Of course, photographers will find inspiration here. What is particularly exciting for amateur photographers is that Stanton admits to never having trained in photography, he simply got out there and took photos, and his blog has lead to major success (which I’m sure is a tad frustrating for those who have trained and worked for years and are still yet to be published…)
This book is largely full of positivity: there are many smiling faces, photos of friendship and love, the intriguing, the weird and wacky, and the quiet and thoughtful. It certainly left me feeling good about the world after I finished it, and it really opened my eyes to the lives that are being lived (as a lady from Australia) on the other side of the world.
This book would make a beautiful gift for yourself or another.
Happy Reading and thank you for joining The Boss Book Club!!
Did you enjoy Humans of New York? Know of any excellent photography books? Let me know in the comments below!