Brandon Stanton’s “Humans Of New York” Series

Published February 10, 2014
Updated January 30, 2018

Resisting pretension or self-awareness, Brandon Stanton's "Humans of New York" series provides honest glimpses into the lives of New Yorkers.

Cramming over 8.3 million people into its modest 468 square mile city limits, it’s easy for New York City residents and visitors alike to feel lost in the fold. One such case could have been Brandon Stanton, an amateur photographer who set off to the Big Apple in 2010 with little more than a suitcase and an idea.

What began as a photographical census project quickly became much more intimate, as Stanton couldn’t help but provide conversation snippets or notes on the subjects captured with each photo he shared. Stanton’s lack of professional photography background lends itself to the production of honest, no-holds-barred portraits that resist pretension so readily found in similar works. In doing so, Stanton gives a human–and often vulnerable–face to Manhattan’s monolithic ambiance:

Humans Of New York Pink Hair
"I perform in angle grinder shows."
"What are those?"
"I put on a metal outfit, then I grind the metal off it so that sparks shoot everywhere. Most of the time there are naked chicks involved."

Microfashion In Harlem

What Happened?
"What happened?"
"It has to do with alcohol. I haven't really told the story to anyone."

Humans Of New York Lounge
"When you yell at someone, who hears it more: you or them? You're only hurting yourself by getting angry. I want to live to be 100. I haven't raised my voice in 40 years."

High Schoolers In New York

Humans Of New York Documentary
"I'm about to start work on a film."
"What's it about?"
"I can't say. It's an investigative documentary co-produced by The New York Times and PBS Frontline."

Humans Of New York Bellhop
"One time I was in Saks Fifth Avenue, and I got in an elevator. There was a woman already in there. She had selected the seventh floor, but when I got in with her, she changed it to the second floor."
"How'd that make you feel?"
"Like I didn't belong."

Her Name Was Roya
Her name was Roya.
"It means Sweet Dreamer Fantasy," she said.

Humans Of New York Hand Holding
"What's the best day you've ever spent together?"
"Probably that day on the Ponts des Arts."
"What'd you do?"
"Just held hands."

Humans Of New York Rent
"The rent keeps going up, and things keep getting tighter."

"They normally throw these crates away at work, but I wanted to do shit with it!"

The Most Romantic Thing
"What's the most romantic thing he's ever done?"
"Oh God, he's hopeless. During our first year of marriage, he celebrated our anniversary every single month."

He Went To Town
He twice declined to pose, but when he finally agreed, he really went to town.

Humans Of New York Contemplating
"Just sittin' here contemplatin' how I'm gonna get home."

"My parents want me to be a doctor. Not sure I'm feeling that."

Humans Of New York Poet
"What's your greatest struggle right now?"
"Fear of my writing. Sharing my writing, in particular."
"Will you email me something you wrote tonight?"

Now You're Asking Me Questions
"I said you could take my picture. Now you're asking me questions and this is turning into a big deal."

Schizophrenia Cure
"I cured myself of schizophrenia."
"How'd you do that?"
"I stopped listening to the voices."

I Never Married
"I never married."
"Why not?"
"Because you didn't come along until today."

Humans Of New York Problems
"What's your greatest struggle right now?"
"Building a fence in my back yard."
"Oh c'mon."
"I'm serious. I married my best friend, I live on the Atlantic Ocean, I've played music my entire life. But this fence is giving me trouble!"

Step Father
"My Foster Dad told me that if I didn't tell anyone, he wouldn't hurt my brother. But then he raped him."

Humans Of New York Railing
"What was your first impression of America?"
"I wondered why everyone was rushing."

Cancer HONY
"My mom, dad, and dad's new girlfriend all got cancer at the same time. Now they're all great friends."

"There are so many bodies that I want to paint."

"It's to remind me to be more aggressive."

Humans Of New York Hat
"Don't lie about something before you've given it a chance to become true."

Film Sketches
"I'm sketching out my next film."
"What's it about?"
"It's sort of a romantic Jurassic Park. Except the dinosaurs have jetpacks."

Humans Of New York Balloons
"We just got back from the prom."
"Did you have dates?"
"Um, yeah."

HONY Key West
"You look kinda like Ernest Hemingway."
"And we're both from Key West."
"You're from Key West?"
"Well, I used to smuggle coke out of there."

Humans Of New York Hollywood


Humans Of NY Hand

Humans Of New York Spinning

Fear Of Abandonment

Couple In New York City

Nostril Hair

Divorced In NYC

Humans Of New York Flowers

Humans Of New York Jewish Chihuahua
One of them pointed at a passing rollerblader and said: "Why don't you photograph him instead?"
Another one answered for me: "Because he's not a Hasid with a chihuahua."

The Hardest You've Ever Laughed
"Do you remember the hardest you've ever laughed?"
"Yes, but it's stupid and simple."
"What was it?"
"My sisters and I were dancing around the living room in our socks, and I tried to do a kick, but ended up throwing my legs out from under me and landing on my butt."

You Get One Picture
"You get one picture, then I'm going about my business."

Humans Of New York Stroller
I sat by that stroller and called out her name for three minutes: "Julia, Julia, Juuulllliiiiiiaa." But she wouldn't emerge. Finally this happened.

I Worked Hard
"I worked hard, I was honest, I provided for my family, and I took care of my parents."

Humans Of New York Egypt
"Every country is good for different reasons. They are like different fruits. But Egypt is my favorite. Egypt is like a mango."

Humans Of New York Train Girl
There was a drunk man on the train that everyone was trying to ignore. She saw that he was holding an inhaler, and offered him her seat.

Humans Of New York Family
"Before it was all about us. Now it's all about him."

What's The Meanest Thing Anyone's Said?
"What's the meanest thing anyone's ever said to you?"
"Die of AIDS, you cocksucker."

Humans Of New York Old Man
"I've never used a cellphone or computer."

Humans Of New York Anniversary

Gay Marriage In New York

Humans Of New York Choices

Humans Of New York Brazil

I Was Engaged
"I was engaged eight years ago, but my fiancee died in Iraq. After that, I promised myself that I'd never be that dependent on someone again. So after I met my husband, I fought marriage for the longest time. But we got married in September. And even though I was rebelling against it, and I always saw it as a meaningless formality, I've been surprised. There's a comfort in knowing that you're sworn to someone else."

Parenting In New York
"I was afraid that I wouldn't have the tolerance to be a parent. But it's amazing how you find the energy."

Humans Of New York Russian Doctor
"Where are you from?"
"Russia. If you see a doctor smoking, he's from Russia."

Humans Of New York Skateboard
"I told her that if she wanted to start over, to meet where we first kissed. She was supposed to be here 15 minutes ago."

Humans Of New York Blonde Woman
"Facebook is telling me that everyone has a house, a kid, and a dog. So I'm just trying to calm the fuck down."

Homeless In New York
"My daughter lives in Pennsylvania. She's working at a nursing home and studying to be an accountant. She's my pride and joy."
"Does she know you're homeless?"
"No, she's got enough to worry about. I just tell her that I'm retired."

"The Russians run an underground fighting league in Coney Island where they pay junkies to fight. I fought about fifty fights for them. They pay you $200 win or lose. They'd always make sure I was real doped up before the fight. I mean they weren't good people but it did make me feel kinda important to have all those gangsters cheering for me. And they'd always be really happy if I won, because that meant I'd made them money."

The Happiest Moment Of Your Life
"What was the happiest moment of your life?"
"I don't know."
"What was the saddest moment of your life?"
"I don't know."
"What's your best quality?"
"I don't know."
"What's your worst quality?"

Harnessing social media's viral potential, four years after an impromptu move to New York, Stanton has acquired a massive one-million "like" strong following as well as a best-selling book. Head over to Humans of New York to see the city in a new light. And if you enjoyed this look at Humans Of New York, check out our other galleries of the New York subway in the 1980s and the summer of 1969 in New York.

Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.
Cite This Article
Cox, Savannah. "Brandon Stanton’s “Humans Of New York” Series.", February 10, 2014, Accessed April 20, 2024.