Blog Envy: Humans of New York

Humans of New York is an enthralling photo project with a pretty simple premise: Brandon Stanton moved to New York with the goal of taking 10,000 street photos as a kind of photographic census of the city. Though he first intended to plot the images on a map, Brandon realized the brief conversations he was having with New York’s residents was more valuable than geographic context. Equipped with some battle-tested conversation starters and simple questions, he is able to disarm complete strangers and find out something incredibly profound about their life within just a few minutes of impromptu conversation. Some regulars include:

  • If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?
  • Tell me about a time in your life when you were most scared.
  • What’s been the happiest moment in your life so far?
  • What do you love most about the person you’re with?

His starter questions are standard, but his intuition on where he places his follow-ups elicits wisdom, humor, and even heartbreak. The result pairs beautifully with the simple, candid photos he captures to spotlight a bite-sized dose of perspective, multiplied several thousand times over. Stanton’s interviewing skills teach me the most with ever entry. His inherent curiosity, his friendliness, and his insight into the human spirit combine to engage artists, tourists, drag queens, millionaires, drug addicts and, most beguilingly, children.

Our Spin On It

Here at 20|20 we often conduct candid interviews for videos and testimonial projects to unearth the heart of a brand living within a business’ team and the people they serve. I’ve definitely see how a more “HONY” approach to these interactions can help move the most rigid interviewee past his well-rehearsed talking points toward something more—a human connection that lives and breathes within us all just waiting to be heard.

My thought for the day: Celebrate what’s simple and raw; the best parts of life require patience, not staging.