Remember a butterfly that flapped a wing causing a tsunami? That’s a similar story, though rather than a flap it was a click-clack of a photo-camera. In 2010, photographer Brandon Stanton started Humans of New York (HONY), a project aiming to construct a photographic census of the city. In less than two years, the online world has burst into hundreds of HO initiatives ranging all over the globe. Now virtually every big city (or a small country) has one. Bastart took a closer look at this new and amazing socio-artistic phenomenon, interviewing some of its creators and participants.
Different latitudes, same inspiration
“I was inspired by Humans of New York, truly one of the best photographic pages I saw.”
Erez Kaganovitz, founder of Humans of Tel Aviv
“This project is inspired by the work of Brandon Stanton in Humans of New York (HONY).”
“HOBA is a photographic census of people in Buenos Aires, part of an international movement. Thanks HONY for the inspiration!”
Jimena Mizrahi, founder of Humans of Buenos Aires
Similar HONY-praising quotes could go on and on. No matter the geography, no matter the culture nor the city or country size: each and every HO initiative has sprung from the same source of inspiration, i.e. the project launched by Brandon Stanton. What’s it about? Read this brief statement from his Facebook page:
I thought it would be really cool to create an exhaustive catalogue of the city’s inhabitants, so I set out to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers and plot their photos on a map. I worked for several months with this goal in mind. But somewhere along the way, HONY began to take on a much different character. I started collecting quotes and short stories from the people I met, and began including these snippets alongside the photographs. Taken together, these portraits and captions became the subject of a vibrant blog.
“Let me see that pic—- ah shit, I look bad. But you cool man. You cool.”
“Mark Twain still coasting off those Huck Finn royalties.”
“I had to quit music when I had kids because I spent all my time on them.”
“Do you regret it?”
“Absolutely not, because when I picked up the guitar again, the music came out different.”
And the message spreads…
HONY’s fans on Facebook exceed 800,000 and that’s a big wow. But what amazes even more is the virality of Stanton’s idea.
A quick search on Facebook pages for “Humans of” ends up with an overwhelming number of cities, islands, countries, continents. From New York to Buenos Aires, Lisbon, London, Rome, Paris, Tel Aviv, Beirut and Lebanon, Khartoum, Karachi, Tokyo, Fiji Islands, India, Earth… The list is growing while I’m typing. HO, a universal herb flourishing in any climate around the globe?
Some say it was the simplicity of Stanton’s message – “to construct a photographic census” – that captured the photographers who were already into similar activities, but perhaps with their consciousness still wandering somewhere else. As one of our interviewees, Erez Kaganovitz, puts it:
“For a long time I have been taking pictures of people of Tel Aviv but I was just posting them to my own feed on Facebook. A year ago I spotted HONY and after a glimpse on his project I thought that there is no reason why I shouldn’t do the same in Tel Aviv – to show the diversity of its people but with my own twist”.
Eight + two views on the “Humans of” phenomenon
The “Humans of” phenomenon is a process rather than a product, so probably it is never finished. Each HO project then, although conceived on a similar inspirational basis, develops its unique character, inimitable fingerprints, just as the city or country that hosts it. The eight + two stories Bastart chose to tell you next are best proof of this. Stay tuned. Enjoy.
Bastart meets Humans of Lebanon Bastart meets Humans of Tel Aviv Bastart meets Humans of Lisbon Bastart meets Humans of Khartoum Bastart meets Humans of Buenos Aires Bastart meets Humans of the Fiji Islands Bastart meets Humans of Karachi Bastart meets Humans of Paris Bastart incontra People of London (italiano) Bastart incontra People of Catania (italiano)For more information about the original creator of “Humans of” phenomenon please visit Humans of New York official Facebook page and website.
Words by Jurgita Po.Alessi