Humans of New York

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Humans of New York
Web address
Slogan New York City, one story at a time.
Commercial? No
Type of site
Users 14,245,000+ (Facebook likes, as of July 2015)
Owner Brandon Stanton
Launched 4 November 2010; 4 years ago (2010-11-04)

Humans of New York (HONY) is a photoblog and bestselling book featuring street portraits and interviews collected in New York City. Started in November 2010 by photographer Brandon Stanton, over 6,000 portraits have been gathered thus far.[1] Humans of New York has developed a large following through social media. The blog has over 14.6 million followers on Facebook and around 3.7 million followers on Instagram as of August 2015.[2]

Stanton grew up outside of Atlanta and attended the University of Georgia. He came to New York after a three-year stint as a bond trader in Chicago. He decided to pursue his passion of photography professionally after he lost his job in 2010.

Stanton started to take candid portraits on streets which became a hit on his Facebook page.[3] During a speech at New York's 2013 Social Media Week, Tumblr founder David Karp described Humans of New York as his favorite blog on Tumblr.[4] At the 2013 Webby Awards, Humans of New York won the Webby for "Best Use of Photography" and the People's Voice Award for "Best Cultural Blog."[5] In December 2013, Stanton was named one of Time Magazine's 30 Under 30 People Changing The World.[6]


Brandon Stanton started his blog in November 2010.[1][7] Initially, he planned to gather 10,000 portraits of New Yorkers and plot them on a map of the city. The project soon evolved, however, when Stanton started having conversations with his subjects and including small quotes and stories alongside his photographs.[8] With this new format, the blog began to grow rapidly. In a matter of months, HONY became so popular that when Stanton accidentally updated his Facebook status by tapping his phone's Q key, his post garnered 73 likes within a minute.[9] As of July 2015, Humans of New York has over thirteen million likes on its Facebook page.[10] He also has over three hundred thousand followers on Twitter.[11]

DKNY dispute, 2012[edit]

In late 2012, fashion label DKNY approached Stanton with an offer to buy 300 HONY photos for use in window displays "around the world."[12][13][14] Stanton turned them down, but in February 2013, a fan noticed HONY's photos in a DKNY store in Bangkok, Thailand.[12][14] After learning of the infringement, Stanton publicly asked DKNY to donate $100,000 in his name to the Bedford-Stuyvesant chapter of the YMCA.[12][15] The donation request was shared over 40,000 times on Facebook, and after heavy pressure on social media sites, DKNY issued a public apology and agreed to donate $25,000.[12][15] Stanton started an Indiegogo campaign to raise the remaining $75,000, and succeeded in raising an additional $103,000.[14]


In December 2012, Stanton spent two weeks collecting street portraits in Iran. Following the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, Stanton spent the week collecting street portraits in Boston. During the 2014 SXSW conference, he spent a week in Austin, Texas, where the conference is held, to gather portraits of Texans.

On August 7, 2014 Stanton began a 50-day "World Tour" in partnership with the United Nations spanning twelve countries around the world, collecting portraits and stories along the way. Countries on this trip included Iraq,[16] Jordan, Israel, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Ukraine, India, Nepal, Vietnam, and Mexico.

In August 2015, Brandon travelled to Pakistan for his photo blog.


On August 13, 2014, while Stanton was gathering stories from refugees in Iraq, gossip website Gawker published an article by a college student and television blogger named Daniel D'Addario titled "The Problem With Humans of New York". D'Addario criticized the photoblog for what he claimed was a selective bias towards portraits and stories that would affirm its readers' limited assumptions about the lives of ordinary people, calling the portraits "caricatures" and alleging that "Stanton sees people not as people but as vectors of how young, white New Yorkers see them".[17] The following day, writer Anastasia Sasewich wrote a retort on The Daily Dot, claiming that HONY's stories were not caricatures, and that D'Addario failed to understand the artistic technique of "inclusion and omission".[18]

Humans of New York book[edit]

On October 15, 2013, the Humans of New York book, which is based on the eponymous photography blog, was released. Published by St. Martin's Press, the book sold 30,000 copies in preorders.[19] Ahead of the release, Stanton was interviewed by Bill Weir for an ABC News Nightline story titled "'Humans of New York': Photog Gone Viral".[20][21]

As of January 20, 2015, the book had been on The New York Times Best Seller list for 28 weeks; it reached the number 1 position on The New York Times Non-Fiction Best Sellers of 2013 on the week of November 3, 2013, and again on the week of December 21, 2014.[22][23]


“Humans of New York” has launched a number of highly successful charity efforts. Following Hurricane Sandy, Stanton traveled to the hardest-hit neighborhoods in New York City to photograph the residents, volunteers, and first responders who had lived through the destruction. Stanton then partnered with Tumblr founder David Karp to launch an Indiegogo fundraiser for the victims of the storm. The original goal of the fundraiser was $100,000. The campaign raised $86,000 within the first 12 hours, and reached a total of $318,530 by the end of the campaign. All of the proceeds went to the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a family-run charity that played a major role in the Hurricane Sandy Relief efforts.[24]

In 2013, HONY launched another Indiegogo campaign entitled “Bring Richard Home” to help news cameraman Duane Watkins and his wife Kristen raise the funds to adopt an orphan from Ethiopia. The goal of $26,000 and was exceeded in 90 minutes. The campaign raised a total of $83,000, and the excess funds went to an educational fund for the adopted boy and his sister.[25]

In 2014, Stanton photographed a boy, Rumi, whose dream was to own his own horse. Stanton set up an Indiegogo campaign to send the boy and his family on a vacation to a ranch in Colorado. Stanton donated $300 to the fundraiser and set the goal at $7,000.[26] Within 15 minutes of posting the fundraiser on his Facebook page, the goal was met; the campaign eventually raised $32,167. After paying for Rumi and his family to go on the trip, Stanton donated the remaining $20,000 to the New York Therapeutic Riding Center, an organization that helps provide horse rides to children with disabilities.

Stanton, Mrs. Lopez and Vidal visit the White House on February 5, 2015

In 2015, Stanton photographed and interviewed a 14-year-old boy from Brownsville, Brooklyn, the region with the worst crime rate in New York City. The boy, Vidal, said his greatest influence was his principal at Motts Hall Bridges Academy, Mrs. Lopez. Stanton later met with Principal Lopez and her Director of Programs, Ms. Achu, and decided to set up an Indiegogo fundraiser that will provide each incoming 6th grade class at Motts Hall Bridges Academy a chance to visit Harvard University. Set up on January 22, 2015, the initiative's original goal was $100,000, enough for one trip for three different classes over three years; it was met 45 minutes after the fund's start. The fund was advertised on subsequent posts depicting the academy's staff and aspects of Vidal's personal life. Two further goals, one for summer programs, and another for a scholarship fund (named The Vidal Scholarship Fund), were made as a result of the significant attention and rapid pace of donations that the fund received. When the Indiegogo fundraiser ended on February 10, 2015, it had accumulated $1,419,509 in donations from 51,476 contributors. As a result of the campaign, Stanton, Mrs. Lopez, and Vidal were invited to visit the White House on February 5, 2015.[27][28]



  1. ^ a b Maloney, Jennifer. "In Focus: City's Humans". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Humans Of New York Has Helped Raise Over $2 Million To Help End Slave Labor In Pakistan". Huffington Post. August 19, 2015. Retrieved August 20, 2015. 
  3. ^ Goodyear, Sarah. "A 'Photographic Census' Captures New York's Characters". The Atlantic Cities Blog. Retrieved April 20, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Here's the Tumblr Founder's Favorite Tumblr". Inc Magazine. Retrieved March 1, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Best Use of Photography". The Webby Awards Gallery. Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Time 30 Under 30". Time Magazine. Retrieved October 26, 2013. 
  7. ^ Stanton, Brandon (May 3, 2013). "Humans of New York: Behind the Lens". Huffington Post. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  8. ^ "The photographer behind 'Humans of New York'". CNN. October 18, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  9. ^ "How Humans of New York Went Viral on Facebook". Inc. Retrieved November 20, 2013. 
  10. ^ "HONY Facebook Page". Humans of New York. Retrieved April 20, 2013. 
  11. ^ "HONY Twitter Page". 
  12. ^ a b c d Adams, Rebecca (February 25, 2013). "Humans Of New York Photos Accidentally Stolen By DKNY". Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Timeline Photos". Facebook. Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c Humans of New York (November 10, 2012). "Let's Send Kids To YMCA Summer Camp". Indiegogo. Retrieved February 27, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b Jalabi, Raya (February 25, 2013). "DKNY to pay $25,000 after using photographs without permission | Art and design |". London: Guardian. Retrieved February 26, 2013. 
  16. ^ Meghan Keneally (August 12, 2014). "Humans of New York Photographer Travels to Iraq With the UN". ABC News. Retrieved August 13, 2014. 
  17. ^ D'Addario, Daniel (August 13, 2014). "The Problem With Humans of New York". Gawker. Retrieved August 17, 2013. 
  18. ^ Sasewich, Anastasia (August 13, 2014). "Humans of New York isn't clickbait – It's why the internet exists". Gawker. Retrieved August 17, 2013. 
  19. ^ David Shapiro Jr. (October 14, 2013). "Human by Human, a Following Grows". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  20. ^ "'Humans of New York': Photog Gone Viral". Video - ABC News. October 11, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  21. ^ "'Humans of New York' a Photographic Melting Pot of the City". ABC News. October 14, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  22. ^ Julie Bosman (November 6, 2013). "'Humans of New York', by Brandon Stanton". New York Times. Retrieved November 9, 2013. 
  23. ^ Cowles, Gregory (November 3, 2013). "Best Sellers - The New York Times : HARDCOVER NONFICTION (November 03, 2013)". New York Times. Retrieved November 9, 2013. 
  24. ^ "HONY & Tumblr Hurricane Sandy Fundraiser". Indiegogo. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Bringing Richard home, the story of a crowd-funded adoption". CNN. November 1, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Let's Send Rumi on a Wild West Adventure!". Indiegogo. Retrieved October 29, 2013. 
  27. ^ Grinberg, Emmanuella; France, Lisa Respers; Hetter, Katia (February 6, 2015). "Obama meets boy who inspired $1 million fundraiser". (CNN). Retrieved February 8, 2015. 
  28. ^ Schulman, Kori (February 5, 2015). "From the Streets of Brownsville, Brooklyn to the Oval Office". Retrieved February 8, 2015. 

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