When Brandon Stanton hit New York’s streets with his camera exactly 10 years ago this fall, he did not plan on launching a photoblog that would amass more than 29 million followers. For Stanton, Humans of New York has always been about experimenting with in-depth first-person captions paired with a portrait (typically in a park).
Stanton had to learn not just how to operate the camera but also how to make strangers comfortable, resulting in intimate moments, such as a commuter admitting his life hasn’t met his expectations and an elderly woman reminiscing about her colorful past as a dancer. It was ultimately those latter skills that came to define the poignant storytelling of Humans of New York—and Stanton understood that these stories weren’t unique to only one place.
“I realized that stopping a random person on the street and interviewing them in-depth about their life could resonate with people,” he says. “But one question I had very early on was, Will I be able to travel and do this same exact work around the world?”
Stanton took that risk, broadened his focus and traveled to 47 countries over three years. With the help of translators, he interviewed thousands of people for his fourth collection, Humans, which transports readers to park benches in Chile, Pakistani hillsides and busy streets in Japan.
“Once I am in conversation, no matter where we are in the world—Indonesia, Ghana, New York or Japan—people suddenly feel very familiar.”