Published by St. Martin's Press on October 15, 2013
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)
It’s time again! Sarah from LaRue BoweRs Photography is at it again and this time she has a great book to review for us! Because she is so popular and loved on The Book Wheel (both by me and you readers), she’ll going to be continuing her series AND we are going to come up with a clever name and logo just for her! I’m so excited and honored to have someone else to contribute her passion for books and beautiful photos to The Book Wheel.
It has been over a year and a half since I saw my very first HONY image. I was on Facebook, scrolling through my newsfeed, when I noticed a photo a friend of mine shared. It was a shot of an older couple on the streets of New York City. There was a caption to the photo and while I don’t remember the exact wording, it went something like this:
Photographer: “May I take your photo?”
<woman looks at man>
Man: “I guess you can.”
It made me giggle and I instantly wanted to see more. I followed the link to the Humans of New York (HONY) blog and was in love. I scrolled through one candid photo after another and found myself wanting more and more. It wasn’t until my husband came in to say “good night” that I realized I had just spent two and a half hours on the site. I quickly liked the Facebook fan page and, reluctantly, went to bed. Since then I have been following HONY and its creator – Brandon Stanton – religiously. It is the highlight of my day when I see one of the HONY photos pop across my screen. When I heard that a book with these images was coming out, I immediately preordered my copy on Amazon.com.
Brandon Stanton’s stint as a photographer began, like most photographers, as a hobby. It was not until the summer of 2010 when he lost his day job as a bond trader that he decided to take his passion for the art to the next level. He moved from Chicago to New York and began taking photos of strangers on the street. His plan was a photographic census of the city of New York. It didn’t take long for Stanton to see that he was on to something.
Sarah’s favorite HONY photo so far.
While many of the images Stanton shares are simply beautiful on their own, the photographer himself declares that they would be nothing without the stories that accompany them. One photo in the amazing Humans of New York book of an older man with a long, snow-white beard laying down in Central Park is the perfect example of this. When I first came across this photo, my initial reaction was – embarrassingly enough – “Santa Claus!” The long beard, the red shirt…it was the first thought that came to mind. Then I read the caption that came with it…and tears filled my eyes (I am not spoiling it – get the book and read it!). “Santa” was no longer a stranger in the park – he was a family member. With just a few words, he restored my faith in love. It was simply…beautiful.
Like any good book, Humans of New York will put you through an emotional rollercoaster. There are the powerful photos, like the one of the Marine in full dress uniform hugging a sobbing woman with the simple caption, “9/11/2011.” Some photos are downright funny – the beautiful couple on Brighton Beach salsa dancing (with a caption that reads: they make everyone “feel simultaneously ugly and uncoordinated”). Some are inspiring, like the young girl who declares, “I want to change the world, but I don’t know how.”
That is the magic of Humans of New York. It is a book that literally teaches you to not judge a book by its cover. It teaches you the power of first impressions and the danger of judging someone before you meet them. It teaches you that though we are all a bit different, we’re really all the same. It shows beauty where you least expect it, and teaches you to be aware of hidden pains. The project that was initially intended to be merely a census has become, in my opinion, the greatest modern anthropological study of its kind.
To read the entire book will take you about an hour but the photos are the stories will remain with you forever. One photo in the book has one of the best descriptions of the project: “HONY is one of the only things keeping people from getting lost in the matrix.”
NOTE: Blogger highly recommends that you purchase this book in the hardcover format in order to fully capture the beauty of the photographs.