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Humans of New York

Right now I am sitting here trying to remember how I discovered the amazing, wonderful, powerful Humans of New York blog. I thought it was through one of the many, many e-mails I get daily, but …. nope, I remain clueless. The important thing, though, is that I found it, fell in love with it, and I know you will, too. How do I know? Because nearly four million people already do. And now there are two more: you and me. 

 

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I started looking at these images of street photography, shot in New York by Brandon Stanton, read the captions beneath them and I was hooked. In a few lines, sometimes just a few words, a window is opened into the lives of the people in the images, making them your friends forever. You smile with them, you cry with them, you cheer for them, and certainly want to know how things turn out for them.

On the blog you will also find a section of images from Iran showing mini stories of life from that country. Brandon has a true talent for connecting with people, and I feel that people are his true passion, even more than photography.

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On that first night, after finding HONY (Humans of New York) also on Instagram, I was up till 3am scrolling down through each image, one by one, reading each story, captivated, unable to stop. I had to force myself to put the phone down and sleep because I had an early wake up call just a few hours away.

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The short story is: after losing his job as a trader on the Chicago Board of Trade, Brandon moved to New York and started photographing people on the street which he then posted on a blog. Later he started collecting quotes and short stories from his subjects and the blog evolved into the powerful force that it is today; its power lying in its ability to touch your heart and turn perfect strangers into your family. Which they already are, really.

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As I scrolled, viewed and read, I also found out about the wonderful HONY For The Holidays project, for which they find Holiday dinners for people who happen to be stuck in New York with no place to go for Christmas. Brandon writes that this was inspired by his own experience during the early days of HONY, when he was too broke to go home and spent Christmas Eve at a 24-hour diner. 

Through the popularity of the blog, they put out the call for people with extra seats around their Christmas dinner table who are willing to host, and one for people who will be alone in NY for Christmas, then match them up. It is logistically a little intense, but they are all organized with Excel spread sheets and all.

Isn’t this just wonderful? Maybe we could all start a project like that in every city.

And let’s not forget about the other wonderful project: the Susie’s Senior Dogs one, in which they help senior dogs find a good fur-ever family anyplace around the country (U.S.).

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Another heartwarming – almost unbelievable – thing about HONY are the comments that viewers write underneath each image. In the era of vicious internet haters, this is an oasis of love and compassion. The occasional snide remark is buried under a big pile of compassion, even for the nasty comment author. This is true not just on Instagram, where followers are often photography addicts who have created a sense of community – at least the ones I follow are, but, I was stunned to discover, also on Facebook, where I usually avoid reading comments to widely popular pages like the plague because I do not wish to come into contact with such negativity and ignorance.

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It has occurred to me that, though the spelling is slightly different, HONY sounds just like Honi in Hawaiian, which is an ancient tradition in which two people greet each other by touching foreheads and noses and exchanging the Ha, the breath of life. Very appropriate, don’t you think?

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The ones shown above are just a few samples of the thousands of images and stories Brandon has been posting. You can view the rest on the HONY website, as well as on the Instagram stream, and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Humans of New York has now also become a #1 New York Times bestselling book by the same name. You can find it through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indie Bound.

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Don’t you just love it when people get to do what they are passionate about, are successful at it, and manage to make the world a better place in the process?

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Humans of New York has also started a world wide movement, as others have been inspired to do the same in their own cities.

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Here are other talented Instagramers you might enjoy:

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