The Lowdown: Three years ago I lost my finance job in Chicago, and moved to NYC with the goal of photographing 10,000 people on the street. I had no photographic experience. Since then, I've walked thousands of miles, stopped over ten thousand people, and collected over five thousand portraits. After each portrait, I conduct a short interview with the subject. I post several of these interactions on my blog each day.

Proof: https://twitter.com/humansofny/status/331871768711151618

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/humansofnewyork

Tumblr: http://www.humansofnewyork.com

UPDATE:

Thanks so much guys, I went as long as I could. (3.5 hours!) I'd have stuck with you all night, but my retinas are on fire, and Susie needs to crap. Goodnight!

http://i.imgur.com/afgteHb.jpg

UPDATE II:

9:00 AM -- back to answering questions for a bit.

Comments: 1186 • Responses: 64  • Date: 

alextigtig656562 karma

Hey Brandon! It's alex, the annoying ginger kid. I thought you said you hated reddit!

humansofny985 karma

Quit trying to get me in trouble Alex. I said that I hate when my photos show up on the front page of Reddit without any attribution. :)

mwuk42386 karma

What's the most awkward/hostile encounter you've had with a subject/the authorities?

humansofny831 karma

General: In certain neighborhoods, you have people who like to "protect" their blocks. They will tell me that you "can't take photos" here. I'm just sincere with them, tell them what I'm doing, and walk away. Not much problem with authorities. I think New York cops are used to people running around with cameras all the time.

Specific: Once there was a woman in a beautiful black fur coat, sitting alone on a bench, overlooking Harlem Meer. I asked her for her photo, she said "yes." Her boyfriend came over and said "no." She begged him to let me. He said "no," then walked away. When he left, I whispered to the girl: "let's do it now." I thought she was going to be excited. Instead, she called her boyfriend over and he commenced with the chest bumping. I'm 6'4", which helps.

HorseLove1004 karma

I'd say her "boyfriend" was actually her boss.

humansofny867 karma

I think you're probably onto something there.

fjanko319 karma

How often do you make quotes up?

humansofny529 karma

Haha! Do I get every single word right? Surely not. But I will say this. Out of 5,000 posts, only two people have ever followed up with me to say they'd been misquoted. One was pretty bad--- I said that "dad's girlfriend" had cancer instead of "mom's boyfriend." The other was a tattoo explanation--which I swear the girl decided to change after she spoke to me. :)

up_up140 karma

Why not use a voice recorder? You can even just use a phone app.

humansofny673 karma

HONY is about conversations. I use the word "interview," but it's really inaccurate. Tape recorders, notebooks... these things create a formal atmosphere that I want to avoid. I just want to talk to people as if I'm talking with my friends. That's when you get the belly laughs and spontaneity.

Somebody recently followed me and said: "You just interact with people. It seems like the photo is actually pretty secondary to the process." I loved that observation. It really articulated what I'm trying to accomplish with these interactions.

thepandoras63 karma

I really hope he answers this. Sometimes they just seem too good to be true, so I'm hoping he's keeping honest. Follow up: How close to verbatim are the quotes? Do you recall from memory, audio record, or manually write them down? Honestly, the quotes are usually more interesting to me than the picture sometimes.

humansofny341 karma

Why I don't need a tape recorder. I will talk to someone for ten minutes, but when they say my CAPTION, I absolutely know it. I walk away repeating the caption to myself. The one quote I'm going to use. So I don't need to remember entire conversations, I need to remember my caption.

How I know when I have my caption:

I start with a broad question, like "Can you give one piece of advice?" or "What's your greatest struggle?" I normally get a broad answer. Like "Live free," or "be true to yourself."

Then I always move to a specific: "Tell me one time you weren't true to yourself." Or "What specifically is keeping you from living free?"

I know I have my caption when that person tells me something that is applicable only to them, that nobody else could have told me. Something that really illustrates their life.

Champanman297 karma

How do you manage to get people you take photos of to open up and share such personal information?

I love your photos and stories, they are so interesting. You manage to find great characters!

humansofny663 karma

It constantly amazes me how brave these people are, and how much they choose to disclose. AND that they don't write me and beg me to take down the post. (Only happened two or three times.) When I first started, I was amazed that anyone would let a stranger take their picture! Now, I've found that there's very little a person won't disclose. You know why I think that is? Because so much of our life revolves around small talk. Weather, finances, things like that. And here comes somebody on the street really digging at the marrow of your life, and your experience. I think it's validating in a deep sort of way.

LeSandwiich118 karma

Do you find that you are able to start conversations randomly with friends or strangers more easily now than before you started this experiment, and also do you believe that the camera gives you more "courage" to go and speak to people you wouldn't normally talk to or is it just your personality?

humansofny403 karma

Absolutely. Being social is a practiced skill. I remember when I was in HS I was extremely social, could talk to anyone. Then I went through a bit of a depression early on in college, and withdrew into a shell. When I started going out again, I noticed; "Holy shit, I've gotten really awkward with other people." It took me awhile to begin feeling comfortable in social settings again. Social skills are skills, and can be improved by making yourself socialize.

blu_rush251 karma

How are you able to pay for your daily needs? Does HONY support you financially?

humansofny566 karma

I've said publicly that I don't want to "cash out" or "monetize" HONY. I like to say it publicly because I want my audience to keep me on mission. HONY print sales have raised nearly $500,000 for charity in the past six months. I want to further monetize the site for non-profit ventures. I honestly want to "give" HONY to New York in some way.

Freelancing and book royalties are keeping me afloat now. I get money for collaborations, occasional magazine pieces, occasional speeches, etc. And I signed two book deals which pay the rent. Also, I live cheaply.

FripZ242 karma

What's the most moving story you've heard?

beedee101212 karma

Hi. I saw you on 14th street the other day. My friend and I got so excited but decided not to stop you because we figured you would get that all the time. Do you always have people coming up to you and asking to have their photo taken? Love your work!

humansofny375 karma

It happens a lot. :) The only way to keep HONY authentic and organic is to have a blanket "no request" rule. However, I will always stop, chat a bit, and take a picture WITH you, if you'd like.

Raw_Sushi190 karma

Do you ever keep in contact with some of the people that you meet?

humansofny472 karma

Well, I constantly see my subjects on the street all the time. Now that I've personally interacted with about 10,000 people, it almost makes NYC feel like a small city. I'm constantly seeing familiar faces and people that I've spoken with before. As far as keeping in touch... very rarely. I am, ironically, pretty introverted. I'm very singularly focused on HONY. When I get free time, I normally spend it with my girlfriend. Or my dog, Susie.

OneHelluvaUsername85 karma

[deleted]

humansofny451 karma

When photographing dogs your chin should be on the ground. You need to be a dog for a sec to get a good dog pic.

maxt623187 karma

How many times do you get turned down for photos a day?

humansofny562 karma

I'm up to about a 65% success rate, and honestly, I think I've gotten about as good as I'm gonna get. Some people are just absolutely not going to let a stranger take their picture. How's it done? Sincerity. A quiet voice. A smile. Sincerity. Sincerity. Sincerity. I don't put on an act. I've seen so many people talk to homeless people like a child. I really don't talk to anyone with a tone of pity. I think it's condescending. I try to approach everyone the exact same way.

daikarasu162 karma

Has anybody ever taken your picture and asked for your story?

humansofny310 karma

Haha, people on the street are stumping me with my own questions all the time.

My two favorite questions to ask, and my answers:

"What is my greatest struggle?" Detaching myself from HONY. Being "present" when I'm with my friends and loved ones. Not constantly checking the numbers, worrying about comments, responding to email. I feel a lot of pressure to keep HONY moving forward. I feel like I'm onto something wonderful, and it took so much work to get here. And I'm afraid of losing it -- it's consuming.

"If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?"

Don't wait for perfect. So many people need everything mapped out in their head before beginning something. HONY is nothing like I originally envisioned when I moved to New York. Nothing. You learn by doing. Just begin, work hard, and figure it out as you go.

SuperHot78 karma

How did you originally envision HONY?

humansofny230 karma

I was going to take 10,000 portraits, and plot them on an interactive map of the city. Which I still think is a GREAT idea. But things changed. When my social media started taking off so fast, I changed my vision. Instead of a close-ended project about New York. It became an open-ended blog about individuals. The path of HONY has been a constant process of ditching what's not working, and doubling down on what's working.

Prime example: I noticed that social media was where my growth was. So I removed my "free-standing" website, and began hosting 100% of my content on social media.

Another example: I noticed that the stories and quotes were becoming as important, or more important, than the photos. HONY was evolving from photography to mixed medium. So I really started focusing on getting better with my interviews.

OmniJinx157 karma

What's the closest you've ever come to giving up on the blog, and what made you decide to stick with it?

humansofny606 karma

The early days were very tough. Six months in-- I was broke, I'd taken thousands of portraits, I didn't know anyone in New York, nobody was paying attention. Every time I talk about it in a speech I start crying. I'd been working on HONY everyday, non-stop, for a year before it got any traction at all.

The early days of HONY were lonely as hell. Why'd I stick with it? I was obsessed. I just thought HONY was such a cool idea and I just knew there had to be a way to make it work. The only time I was happy was when I was photographing. It's when I stopped that I got sad. My first Christmas season in New York was the saddest time in my life. I couldn't afford to go home. I just photographed my way through it to keep from being so lonely. I photographed all day Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

hydroxylfunction132 karma

Do you think being a handsome male contributes to your success?

humansofny285 karma

Well, thanks for the compliment, first off. But I truly, truly, believe it is all about "energy" on the streets. When people are deciding whether or not to let me take their photo, I think they are subconsciously determining whether or not I am a "threat" to them. So honestly, my approach is very feminine. My voice gets very high when I approach. It's already pretty high, but it gets like two octaves higher. The only time I use masculine energy is when I'm approaching groups of young males, like "Hey guys, here's the deal, I run this site, yo."

I've always thought if I were a woman, I could get more people to say yes. But as a male, I feel more secure in certain areas, and in certain approaches. So I think it washes out.

mmoynan199 karma

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9n3GPqpRyQ 1:08 perfect example of the super high voice!

humansofny93 karma

haha, great find!

Selachian129 karma

Have you ever taken a photo of someone with whom you disagreed really strongly? Someone you really didn't like? Has the act of taking photos of strangers ever led to anything else really cool?

humansofny274 karma

Oh, all the time. I try to take photos of all sorts of people. So, naturally, I disagree with them quite a bit. But I try to keep my personal opinions out of the HONY captions. A person once told me that it seemed like I approach people "on their own terms." I really appreciated that observation, and internalized it as a goal moving forward.

misingnoglic118 karma

What was going to Iran like? I'm Iranian-American but I've never been there before, seeing the pictures was amazing though.

humansofny203 karma

Iran was one of the great experiences of my life. I always felt that HONY portraits were a really "humanizing" form of art. And I always wondered what it would be like to apply it to a place that had been vilified. There were a lot of unknowns when I went there. I knew I had been assigned a "guide," but I had no idea if he'd let me do HONY-like work on the streets of Tehran. I was so proud of the work that I was able to come back with. And very charmed by the people of Iran.

stanton_throwaway108 karma

What's your workout routine? (I'm a straight guy, but I have this intense man-crush on you)

humansofny233 karma

Well, I walk about 8 miles a day, everyday. I lift weights a few times a week, and I try to run three miles every other day to keep from feeling overwhelmed.

I also try to keep my nutrition balanced by eating 50 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches a week.

motionless19100 karma

3 years ago when you lost your job, what made you decide to move to New York and do this instead of putting together a resume and job hunting like most people would? Was it just spontaneous?

humansofny214 karma

Honestly, I feel like finance was a hiccup in my life. I'd always felt like an artist, though I didn't really have any technical skills like drawing or painting. I enjoyed beauty, ruminating about life, etc. All these things made me feel like an artist. I sort of "fell" into my bond trading job after college. So when I lost my job, I said-- I'm just gonna try to be an artist. I just got this new camera. I feel like I have an eye. I love it. I'm just gonna do it.

buttsoups98 karma

What do you think about the hateful speech that comes up on HONY sometimes?

humansofny201 karma

I hate it of course. But we have 740,000 people in that group right now. It's a large-sized city of sorts. And every city has its assholes. So I don't fret over each negative comment like it means that HONY is losing its culture. I try to control the culture through my own actions. I try to respect my subjects. I feel like mean people sort of get bored and move on. They don't find anyone else who's looking to make fun of people, they don't get validation, and they leave. I have some moderators who do their best to weed out the really nasty comments.

HONY's positive culture is one of my greatest sources of pride. I'll work hard to maintain it.

Golden_Brown188 karma

How do you know when a person's "picture worthy"?

humansofny194 karma

I try to keep my criteria as vague as possible, even to myself. I feel like the moment I start looking for something specific, patterns are going to start emerging in my work. And in a place as diverse as New York, it's important to keep the photos as diversified as possible. Do I succeed in keeping my photos free of patterns? Of course not. I love puppies, kids, and old people. I feel like a lot of time the best perspectives, and quotes, come from people at the beginning and end of their lives.

LynnSnow83 karma

Have you ever been moved to tears by what comes of the post-photo interviews with your subjects?

humansofny231 karma

Appropriate placement of this question. Because the photo I referenced above was the only time I've ever cried on the street. It was pouring down rain. I was huddled under an umbrella with that woman, and she started talking to me like the narrator of Titanic. Then she just poured out this beautiful quote from her dying husband, and yeah, I turned the corner and started crying. The picture, again:

http://www.humansofnewyork.com/post/43835301885/when-my-husband-was-dying-i-said-moe-how-am-i

thepianosoprano75 karma

Have you ever feared for your health/life when photographing a subject? Your captions never stereotype, and you photograph people that we close-minded individuals might think of as "sketchy". Also, have all these portraits ever caused you to re-think the way you dress?

humansofny263 karma

I can't say I've ever feared for my life. Honestly, the most likely way that I will be killed doing HONY will be getting hit by a truck. There are so many times when I am listening to music, will see a subject across the street, and will just dash through traffic.

If I die violently, I will probably get hit by a truck chasing after a subject. People will call me an idiot. But please tell them that's how I wanted to go out.

alleeexxxx73 karma

What do you think about other photographers copying your concept in different cities around the world?

humansofny131 karma

Honestly, I think its wonderful that HONY has inspired people to get out there and do this kind of work. It's very transformative and rewarding to interact and learn from so many people. I think there are hundreds of spin-offs right now. My official policy, however, is to focus on my own work. Focus on my photography. Focus on my storytelling. Focus on HONY. If other people are inspired to do similar work, I think that's great. The bigger HONY gets, the more I try to focus on the small things that I can control. I try not to worry about global photography movements. I try to worry about asking better questions.

universal_ubiquity64 karma

I remember that when you just started the blog that people accused you of discrimination by only taking photos in predominately white neighborhoods or in gentrified black areas (thusly representing only a "White New York"). Were you aware of these criticisms and had you responded to them?

For the record, I do recognize that you spread the love to diverse neighborhoods, even if you focus a lot on the Village.

humansofny164 karma

Am I perfect at diversity? Absolutely not. It's impossible to take 5,000 portraits, no matter how hard you try, and not realize afterward that some demographic was really misrepresented. But I do try. I try to be conscious. I sometimes wish people would remember that I'm just one dude. I'm the only one doing this. I have to gather several portraits everyday, while maintaining everything else relating to the blog's growth. It's very difficult to keep track of diversity ratios, and it's hard to travel to the outer boroughs as much as I'd like.

I feel like a lot of people will come to the site for two weeks, not see an Asian person, or an African American, or a transgender person, and then shoot off a wall post or email calling me a bigot. They don't realize that we are three years deep into this thing, and two weeks is a very small sample size.

If I sound a little over defensive it's because, yeah, it really sucks when people you've never met try to explain why you're a racist.

zachski60 karma

Brandon,

I first want to say thank you so much for what you do. You're one of the few reasons I look forward to logging into Facebook every morning. The photos you share and the stories you unravel are truly inspirational, and I hope you know that. I just have a few questions.

  1. Have you ever heard a story from someone that you haven't told anyone else about?

  2. Are there any other countries you hope to visit, similar to the trip you took the middle east earlier?

  3. Who is the most inspirational person you've met during your HONY experience?

Again, thank you so much.

humansofny118 karma

1) Honestly, I can't think of one. Whenever I hear a great story, my first impulse is to capture it for HONY. Some of my best posts have come from me hearing a great story, and saying, "Is there anyway you can stay here for ten minutes while I run home and grab my camera?" And I actually RUN.

2) All of them.

3) There's been a lot. But I love this dude so much: http://www.humansofnewyork.com/post/21189123714/my-wifes-name-was-barbara-i-used-to-call-her-ba

mmshx58 karma

Hi Brandon, I'm thinking of PONY (pets of new york), do you think it's a good idea?

humansofny143 karma

I think it's definitely something that could work. But here's the thing about ideas: there are 100x more great ideas than there are people with the work ethic to make them happen.

So get out there, lay in some dog shit, and start snapping those pups.

mauxly67 karma

Not so much a work ethic thing is absolute fear of failure. We talk ourselves right out of great ideas. And those of us that don't, that actually give it a shot, crumble at the first hint of failure.

If you look around you, you'll see that America and the world are chock full of people who have amazing work ethics. They just place all of their energy in safe little salaried boxes.

Sighed,

Chickenshit Workaholic

humansofny28 karma

nice insight.

LaughingStock50 karma

Do you know which one of your pictures was "liked" the most? Do you have a favorite one?

humansofny81 karma

The two posts that went the most viral were the post about the DKNY infringement and the post about Stella. (Which ended up landing us both on the Today Show-- though I just sat there nodding.) The HONY post that had the most "likes" was in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The New York Marathon had just been cancelled, and I photographed a couple of would-be runners from Norway helping with the clean-up effort.

hensandchicas44 karma

Where do you see HONY in a year? In five years? Do you plan on taking yourself to other worldly cities?

Your ability to see and share is most admirable. Thank you for all your work!

humansofny95 karma

I think there are two obvious answers:

Take HONY Deeper: Longer form writing, and spending days with subjects instead of minutes. Really drawing out the total arch of their life story. If anyone was following HONY from the early days, they know that I wrote about 40 long form stories in the first year. The photography took off so fast that I got away from my writing. I'd like to get back to writing in a big way.

Take HONY Wider: After the book comes out in October, I plan to start travelling much more. Both for a selfish yearning to explore the world, and to apply the artform to different cities and cultures.

stateofalaska39 karma

What was the most negative/positive reaction you've ever gotten from asking to take someone's photo?

humansofny92 karma

Negative: Honestly, it's not words that upset me. It's TONE. I hate when people respond in a way that insinuates that I'm being rude for POLITELY ASKING for their photograph. I think it's the height of egotism when someone feels so self-important that somebody attempting a harmless interaction is "putting them out" in some way.

Positive: It's gotta be whenever I happen to approach a HONY fan.

Also, I love running into people a few days, or weeks, after I've photographed them. I love hearing about all the calls they got, and how they loved the comments, and how strangers have been stopping them on the street. It makes me feel so good to be able to have such a positive impact on the lives of these people who were kind enough to let me take their photo.

nevilleismyhero39 karma

Just a few weeks ago you raised thousands of dollars to send children to summer camp. I'm a summer camp counselor and some of those children have the funnest time of their lives at camp. They get to see and experience new things that they never would have experienced otherwise. Thank you. You turned an unfortunate situation into something spectacular.

Now for my question: What is the most significant thing you have learned about humans or life in general from your work?

humansofny79 karma

Thanks for the note!

We are a lot less rude, violent, and scary one-on-one than we are in groups.

sunshinegoawaytoday38 karma

I'm a journalism student, and I often have trouble approaching people on the street for interviews. Any tips for overcoming my fear?

humansofny64 karma

DO IT. I was terrified to approach at first. It's a practiced skill. If you do what scares you enough times, the fear disappears. I had a rule in the beginning: I would try to approach the people I was most afraid of approaching. Now I'm not afraid to approach anyone. I'm sometimes afraid to approach groups. (Young males, especially). But I'm never afraid to approach an individual.

Csalted35 karma

What was the picture that blew up HONY? Or did it just snowball over time?

humansofny65 karma

What blew up HONY was the captions, I think. It's when I really started telling the stories of these random people. For the first several months, HONY was pure photography. I really believe that mixing in the stories was the tipping point.

colormemallory34 karma

What is the best kid interaction you've had?

Your photos make my day.

humansofny149 karma

I love that question. Let me think. Recently, a young kid told me he wanted to be an artist because he wanted to make different versions of himself. I thought that was profound as hell.

sezibop33 karma

What is your favorite photograph you've taken?

humansofny68 karma

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=119788024761973&set=a.102099983197444.4412.102099916530784&type=1&theater

Why? Not because of anything specific, but because of the "point in time" that it represents for me. I was in New York, chasing this crazy idea, and figuring out my photography style as I went along. This is one of the first photos where I REALLY involved the subjects in the portrait. I used to just walk up to people on the sidewalk, and snap them where they stood. Now, I hardly ever do that. The approach just begins the process. Every photo now is a collaboration between me and the subject, where I try to have fun and get the most creative shot using our surroundings. This photo represents a moment where I really figured out the photos that I enjoy taking.

kittensandsloths28 karma

Hi! I'm an art photography student at Syracuse University! Here are my questions for you: Do you have contact with people who run their own "Humans Of" websites? Have you stayed in contact with any of the people you've taken photographs of? Why do you enjoy taking portraits rather than other types of photography? How did you start your photography profession? Do you consider your style more like photojournalism than art? What advice do you have to aspiring photographers?

humansofny65 karma

Hey kittensandsloths <--- two great things, btw.

A lot of the questions I think I managed to answer above, so I'll give this advice to photographers:

1) Photograph everything. Go out in early in the morning, and photograph everything from every possible angle. Make as many mistakes as possible. Thousands of mistakes. Hundreds of thousands of mistakes. Don't try to take the right photograph. Try to take as many photographs as you can. Then go home, look at all your pictures. Decide what YOU like. Don't decide what's correct. Decide what YOU think is beautiful. Go to sleep. Wake up. Repeat.

By doing this, you'll develop your own style that makes you happy and gives you a sense of freedom and discovery.

FieldOfBirds27 karma

I really enjoyed your photo series from Iran a few months ago, as I'm really interested in perhaps travelling there one day. Culturally-speaking, how 'Western' is Iran as a country? You also mentioned that the people you met were very friendly to Americans and Western people in general. Did you find this was the case across the board, or were there some people who were less welcoming?

humansofny53 karma

Of course there are people who are going to be less than welcoming anywhere. But the vast, vast majority of Iranians love Americans. And they hate their government. Most everyone you meet will do two things:

1) Bitch about the government 2) Ask about America

They are Western in many ways. But also Eastern in many awesome ways. They view hospitality as a sacred duty in a way that I haven't experienced in the West.

AmoreMoreOreRe26 karma

I'm sure you see celebrities in New York City...do you ever purposely not photograph/interview them because of who they are?

humansofny76 karma

Honestly, I photographed the red carpet at the Met Gala a couple weeks ago, and I regretted it. I was in a press pit with hundreds of other photographers, fighting for the same posed portraits of celebrities, and it felt very un-HONY. If I see a celebrity on the street, I may ask them. But I think I am officially past the days of going places just to photograph high-profile people. I rationalized being there by saying: "Celebrities are an important part of New York, whether you like it or not."

But what makes HONY different is that it features people who aren't normally documented. I don't think I have anything to gain by photographing people who's names turn up hundreds of images in a Google image search. I think I will definitely stick to the streets from now on.

Meirah26 karma

Oh no! Are you still on? Is it over? Did I miss it?

humansofny84 karma

Yes. No. No.

mlurve23 karma

Where is your favorite place in all of NYC?

And, I must say as a New Yorker, every day I hope I randomly run into you hoping that you ask to photograph me. :)

humansofny47 karma

Central Park. Might be my favorite place in the world.

EyeSpyAWitch21 karma

First off, I wanted to say I'm a huge fan of your work. :) Second, how do you deal with the critics? I know you've posted several controversial quotes to go along with your photos before, and people can get very nasty. Is it hard to brush it off, or do you just take it with a grain of salt?

humansofny31 karma

It's a learning process. Being criticized by people you don't know, and who don't know you, takes some getting used to. Especially when those criticisms are personal in nature. But as the site grew, criticisms started coming in such a volume that I was almost forced to philosophize them. One-tenth of one percent of my audience could be upset with me, and that's 100 angry comments. I had no choice but to not take them personally. It was a natural adaptation because you can't cope any other way. I just tell myself that these people have no clue about me, and move on.

hotatai21 karma

How do you get such good quotes from people? What questions do you usually ask them?

humansofny34 karma

I answered this above, but quick recap:

I always start broad: "Piece of advice, greatest struggle, greatest fear," but that's normally just a "foray" question. I then follow up on their answer to get a specific anecdote about their life.

But that's sort of scientific talk.

Put simply: I'm a super curious dude. I enjoy knowing why people are the way they are. Why do people think certain ways? Why do they believe certain things? I think my natural, nosy curiosity drives me to some really good answers.

honylover14 karma

Hey Brandon! I just want to say that you're an inspiration to all of us. Just out of interest, what equipment do you usually use? Looks to me like a Canon 85 1.2 or something along those lines.

humansofny26 karma

Close. Canon 50 mm 1.2, exclusively. I currently shoot with an EOS 5D Mark III, though the vast majority of HONY was shot on an EOS 7D.

tmeowbs14 karma

Who are some of your favorite photographers?

humansofny19 karma

I relate most to Vivian Maier's photos, I think. I also love David LaChapelle, although I think our work couldn't be more different.

samharrisson2114 karma

How many shots do you take a day? Of those, how many do you use?

Do you use photoshop at all?

How do you get your bokeh to be so perfect?

humansofny32 karma

When I first started, I took over a thousand shots a day. I did this for months. That's when I was really figuring out my aesthetic. Since then, the number of shots has become lower and lower as I've become more sure of what I'm looking for. I'd say these days, I'm averaging slightly over 100 shots a day, which result in 6-8 portraits that will end up on the blog.

I'll take many shots of each person-- not necessarily for different compositions, but to capture different expressions. I generally start with a full body shot, then during the interview, will try to get some more natural shots while the subject is talking. I use minimal Photoshopping, a few auto settings, maybe only a cou

jessiefaye13 karma

Have you ever been sued for taking someones photo who agreed and then backed out?

humansofny36 karma

Nope. The law is very much on the side of photographers. Asking permission is a courtesy, not a requirement. Honestly, the main reason I ask permission is to get the best photo possible.

Dragaan13 karma

What's the first thing you think of when you look for a new photo opportunity?

humansofny31 karma

"What the hell is going on over there?"

randomtopic12 karma

hello! love the fb page. how do you deal with the constant unapproved use of your work?

humansofny31 karma

I view it as the cost of doing business. I live and die by how easy it is to share my work.

mashifan10911 karma

What do you think you'll do once you finish your HONY project?

humansofny27 karma

I can't imagine myself finishing right now.

yogirllilj10 karma

Hey Brandon! I follow you on tumblr, and I've always wondered a few things. 1. have you ever stopped a sex worker/prostitute and they offer you services when you are only trying to take their photograph? 2. has anyone ever confronted you about taking their photograph, or do you have to do a whole consent form or something they sign beforehand?

humansofny9 karma

1) Can't say I have.

2) I used to get confronted in the early days, because I was still doing a lot of candid shots. It's the candid shots that get you in trouble, because people tend to get mad if you don't ask their permission. It makes sense-- if you see someone taking your picture without asking, you assume it's for a bad purpose. I don't really have any aggressive confrontations these days because I always ask. The worst I'll get is a rude "no," or a "fuck off."
Consent forms are not needed.

barbie7910 karma

Is there a picture you missed taking that you regret?

humansofny31 karma

Oh, all the time. Few things break my heart more than the perfect shot who turns me down.

rexypoo10 karma

Howdy! You've traveled to various different locales, most notably Iran, so if you were to have a dream destination for a special Humans of ______ trip, where would it be?

humansofny22 karma

A trip mixing Israeli, West Bank, and Gaza portraits.

jwalterleavesnotes9 karma

What is the biggest "fan" reaction you've gotten on the street? Like people that recognized you.

humansofny12 karma

It can sometimes be crazy to see the emotional connection that people have with you just through your work. Several times, there's been tears. It really moves me to see people that engaged with HONY.

Wcubed38 karma

Do you have any professional training in photography? What camera/lens(es) do you use?

humansofny20 karma

No professional training.

goodstorytellitagain6 karma

Since the start of your project, how have your views of New York City changed?

humansofny15 karma

Romance has faded, attachment has grown.

dwindiemuse6 karma

Did you ever imagine that your page/website would turn out to be so successful and rewarding?

humansofny6 karma

I don't think I'd have made it this far if I didn't.

siksean4 karma

What influence has this experience had on you?

People talk about travelling the world to find wisdom, but I can imagine with the melting pot of people in the city that you've had your fair share of insight.

humansofny7 karma

I think the most tangible way that HONY has changed me relates to my comfort with strangers. I've just completely eradicated any fear of starting conversations with people. If I start a conversation with a stranger, and they are rude to me, I no longer view their reaction as an indication that I've done something wrong. I view their reaction as an indication that they are rude. I've stopped too many people, and had too many wonderful interactions, to feel like there's anything weird about stopping a stranger on the street. Now, if I see something about a stranger's hair, style, personality that I like, I tell them.

tinypantsgoon4 karma

What is the most touching moment that you've had while taking somebody's photo?

humansofny3 karma

One time this dude touched me.

AveryDiamond3 karma

You're doing this AMA way too slowly. How does that make you feel?

humansofny7 karma

fantastic