*By Camille Brito Reale
Brandon Stanton is a guy with a camera and a personal challenge in an incredible city. A couple of years ago he started a personal project for fun because he saw that magical glare in the eye of New Yorkers. He felt these glances deserved to be captured and stored somewhere for people to admire at any time, in any city, because New York has enough beauty to share with the world.
Little did he know this project would slowly grow to become more than an idea, it became a passion, a parallel city; where in New York, the city that never sleeps, the city where high heels don’t stop you from running because you don’t have time to stop for even one second, people would look at the lens of his camera and stop their lives just for him, forever. Everyone knows New Yorks photogenic reputation, but no one has experienced it like Brandon has. He has been clicking and shooting from the tip to the toe of the island for the past two years and a half. He has taken over 4000 photographs, but most impressively, he has captured the essence of 4000 pieces that makes New York, putting them all in place, all together, aiming to create a narrative with no speech, because if an image is worth a thousand words, he has, without a doubt, managed to tell the story of this unique city through thousands of different voices.
Documentary photography is all about perspective, its Carpe Diem, it’s an incredible feeling and in complete sincerity, a bit of an addiction. When I look at HONY’s photos it makes me crave it, it makes me also crave New York, a city that is not my own, but I feel tickling my soul just because the portraits are so honest and mind opening. I feel in New York you can see it all, and sometimes you don’t believe your eyes, and even if we are a global generation with no prior judgments, I feel sometimes, for a fraction of a second, when we see something unknown we fear it.
Brandon has risen above this fear, replaced this fraction of a second with the shutter speed of his camera as he has opened his eyes, his mind, and lens to everyone with a story to tell, a smile to give, a look on his face, guarding preciously this treasure found in the eyes of a New Yorker. So this hidden treasure, hidden but yet so tangible, obviously has a map. An interactive map in his website where stills become narrative and Manhattan invades the city you live in, via Internet, via lost gazes of people looking at an invisible horizon. The idea is magnificent and the technique lives up to the standards of this one and the expectations of the fans.
The realization and integration of stories on his website, the accessibility of his work and Brandon himself, encouraging you to tell him about someone you think deserves to be a part of his ongoing gallery, is just that plus that makes it so… modernly, friendly,tipically New York. Brandon calls his project a photographic census of the city, I think it’s more than that, I believe I would call it a silent diary. Every city you live in, visit or become a part of, writes a story about you, about you in this city, and Humans of New York’s photos are the concretization of these invisible stories written on everyone’s skin that people keep secret until Brandon reveals it with his shots.
I honestly recommend this simple yet beautiful website to everyone, it’s not Le Louvre of course, it’s a much more raw façade of art, it’s sometimes even clumsy or blurry because it is the portrait of a person that has told a story with no words in such way; and its contagious, because you suddenly become speechless. A big apple, and its smaller neighborhoods with its corresponding streets, where you find even smaller fractions of New York. All these bits and bobs put together to create a kaleidoscopical feeling of Manhattan, colorful and fascinating, where everything seems to fit together.
From the shirtless kids running in the streets of Inwood to the matching-tie-and-handkerchief men at the financial district, HONY has captured stills of moving lives all around the island, and has still so much more to shoot. I can only hope, as a non new Yorker, that Frank Sinatra’s words will inspire Brandon to continue his census globally, because if he can make it there, he can make it anywhere.