Humans of New York

Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton
ISBN: 9781250038821

This is people-watching in book form. Stanton, young bond trader turned photographer, has been roaming New York City streets with camera in hand and HONY is the result. (Well, his facebook page then blog then this book deal is the result.) It’s a story with a hook, but the hook itself doesn’t interest me — the pictures do.

Most of the photographs have a line of story with them, not so much captions as commentary, quotes, or scene-setting. They are presented not as fine art (where one might expect more single images and much more white space) but in a more casual, magazine-like style. Looking at HONY, you do realize you really can see it all in New York. If you know the city at all, I suppose part of the fun is in recognizing where people are literally (I’ve been there! Yes, it is one of those lounge seats on the high line!) and figuratively (Uh huh, I’ve seen that type, I know that type…) or at least believing that you do.

Some of the images really are quite striking. For example, he photographed one couple who met almost fifty years ago on a picket line, and you can see the love on her face. It is those slices of sudden wonder — where you see something you know is true, and maybe rare to see so plainly — that make the collection worth the time. Are there average shots of visually striking folks? Yeah. Does it really need to be three hundred pages long? That depends on what kind of art you are expecting. The point of this collection isn’t to replicate some gallery exhibition, it is to share something alive and vibrant from the streets of New York. And it isn’t hard to imagine that could be an even longer story… which is probably why it is a continuing one online.

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