Brandon Stanton, the photographer behind the wildly popular photo series Humans of New York, recently sat down with Chase Jarvis to discuss Stanton’s path from struggling photographer to worldwide sensation.
In the video, a humble Stanton explains how he launched into his photography career—lacking any formal training—after losing his Chicago job as a bond trader in 2010. Finding himself in New York City, Stanton began photographing thousands of street portraits. By the end of the year, HONY was born.
“In the early days I’d have people actually say to me, ‘how delusional do you have to be to think that you’re going to be a successful photographer with no experience?’—I had thousands of photos and I’d been doing it for months and nobody was paying attention. One day, I started a page called Humans of New York. We started getting one new fan a day, two new fans a day, and I said forget everything else, this is what’s working for me.”
— Brandon Stanton
When Stanton began coupling his photography with personal quotes from his subjects, his popularity skyrocketed. Today, with nearly four million Facebook fans and a New York Times bestselling book, HONY has become a much-loved phenomenon, fostering a strong and vocal online community of positive and supportive fans.
It’s not unusual for HONY posts to receive a hundred thousand “likes” and thousands of comments. It’s easy to see why. Stanton’s kind approach and easygoing demeanor help his subjects open up. The quotes shared with the photos are often very touching and personal; instantly relatable and engaging to fellow humans.
“What I really hope to maintain is the culture of positivity, of celebration and support that these people share,” says Stanton in his interview on Chase Jarvis LIVE. Watch the video below where Stanton discusses his beginnings, his approach, and his rigorous daily photography routine:
In the video, Stanton credits his success to his work ethic. Holding himself to a high standard of posting five photos every single day, he tells Jarvis “I said at an early, early stage, no matter how many people were paying attention, or how many books were sold, or how famous I get, I want my pride to be that I work harder than anybody else. Because I can control that.”
Stanton’s basic photography setup—a Canon DSLR and a 50mm lens—is proof that your gear doesn’t matter, it’s the content that counts. “I’m simple in process because I think the diversity’s in the stories,” says Stanton.
Millions of fans clearly agree.