The “Humans of New York” Photo Project Becomes a 13-Part Video Documentary Series: Watch It Free Online

New York, New York—there are many ways of assess­ing whether or not you’ve “made” it here—these days it includes an appear­ance on pho­tog­ra­ph­er Bran­don Stan­ton’s wild­ly pop­u­lar blog, Humans of New York, in which a spon­ta­neous street por­trait is anchored by a per­son­al quote or longer anec­dote.

Fol­low­ing sev­er­al books and a UN-spon­sored world tour to doc­u­ment humans in over twen­ty coun­tries, the project has mor­phed into a 13-episode docu-series as part of Facebook’s orig­i­nal video con­tent plat­form.

Aid­ed by cin­e­matog­ra­ph­er Michael Crom­mett, Stan­ton elic­its his cus­tom­ary blend of uni­ver­sal and spe­cif­ic truths from his inter­view sub­jects. Extend­ing the moment into the video realm affords view­ers a larg­er win­dow onto the com­plex­i­ties of each human’s sit­u­a­tion.

Take episode four, “Rela­tion­ships,” above:

An ample, unadorned woman in late-mid­dle age recalls being swept off her feet by a pas­sion that still burns bright…

An NYU grad stares uncom­fort­ably in her pur­ple cap and gown as her divorced par­ents air var­i­ous regrets…

A cou­ple with mis­matched views on mar­riage are upstaged by a spon­ta­neous pro­pos­al unfold­ing a few feet away…

La Vie en Rose holds deep mean­ing for two cou­ples, despite rad­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent loca­tions, pre­sen­ta­tions, and ori­en­ta­tions.

A lit­tle girl has no prob­lem call­ing the shots around her spe­cial fel­la…

I love you, New York!!!

Oth­er themes include Mon­ey, Time, Pur­pose, and Par­ent­ing.

One of the great plea­sures of both series and blog is Stanton’s open-mind­ed­ness as to what con­sti­tutes New York and New York­ers.

Some inter­views take place near such tourist-friend­ly locales as Bethes­da Foun­tain and the Wash­ing­ton Square Arch, but just as many tran­spire along­side notice­ably Out­er Bor­ough archi­tec­ture or the blast­ed cement heaths apron­ing its less sought after pub­lic schools.

Those who live here will nod with recog­ni­tion at the cher­ry blos­som self­ies, “show­time” in the sub­way, and the Bush­wick vibe of the groom who pro­posed to his bride at Coney Island, under the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eat­ing Con­test Wall of Fame.

Dit­to the appear­ance of such local celebri­ties as Jim­my Webb, emer­i­tus man­ag­er of the punk bou­tique, Trash and Vaude­ville and Black­wolf the Drag­on­mas­ter, the city’s unof­fi­cial wiz­ard.

Below, Stan­ton explains his goal when con­duct­ing inter­views and demon­strates how a non-threat­en­ing approach can soft­en strangers to the point of can­dor.

It’s well know ’round these parts that cer­tain seg­ments of the local pop­u­lace would gnaw off limbs to be immor­tal­ized by Stan­ton, but he cleaves to the pure serendip­i­ty of his selec­tion process. Ask­ing to have your pic­ture tak­en ensures that it won’t be. Luck puts you in front of his lens. Shar­ing your truth is what makes you human.

Watch Humans of New York: The Series here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Humans of New York: Street Pho­tog­ra­phy as a Cel­e­bra­tion of Life

Inter­act with The New York Times Four-Part Doc­u­men­tary, “A Short His­to­ry of the High­rise”

New York City: A Social His­to­ry (A Free Online Course from N.Y.U.) 

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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