Brandon Stanton is a photographer living in New York City with one simple goal -- photograph everyone in the city. Toward that end he's creating Humans of New York, a large-scale photo project about every New Yorkers of all stripes, and the stories that make them unique. Recently Stanton spoke to HuffPost:
My photographs weren't interesting because of the people. They were interesting because of the interactions that I was having with those people. Often it's nothing more than the relationship between a nervous person and a strange photographer.
So far he's gathered over 1,600 portraits of strangers on the streets, and now is focusing more on their stories, not just the composition behind the photo. Some street photographers hide behind phone booths like paparazzis so their subject won't be aware of their presence, but for Stanton it's precisely that awkward interaction, tearing down of the wall between strangers, that he covets.
A lot of times I ask these people very personal questions, and they'll answer. They'll tell me everything because a lot of times I'm the only one who's ever asked. I can just tell when I talk to them-- eight million people in this city, and nobody's ever asked about their life.
A routine interaction goes like this: "When I was walking to the subway this morning, Kaleem was gesturing wildly and screaming at no one. There was a bottle of liquor in one hand. But he didn't seem mean spirited. More like a composer screaming at his orchestra. So I asked for his photo."
Is there any harm in approaching random New Yorkers and asking them personal questions? You nervous subway riders will be surprised by this -- the answer is no. " I can tell you that New Yorkers, one on one, are no ruder than the people of any other city. That's a myth. It's not the people who are rude, its crowds that are rude...Sure, I've made some people angry by asking for their photo. But that happens everywhere."
Check out some of Stanton's subjects below and visit his website to see the stories behind the pictures.