‘Humans Of New York’ Creator Talks Origin Of His Blog And The Artistic ‘Discipline’ Needed For Its Success

The lights cast a warm glow on the wood walls and high ceiling of Benaroya Hall right before they’re dimmed down and a small, shadowy figure of a man waves his hand to the crowd: It’s Brandon Stanton.

It’s a chilly night in Seattle when Stanton, creator of the widely popular Humans of New York blog, speaks to the people in the nearly sold-out, 2,500-seat venue. He’s affable and folky in a similar style to the photos he couples with quotes and posts onto the internet.

He examines the movements that led him to the success of his blog. It was birthed from a moment of failure. Stanton used to work in finance, where he would play the stock market professionally until it turned sour for him. The investments he made no longer had returns that warranted his employment, and he was let go.

The day of his termination, Stanton took a walk through Chicago in the windy, fall weather that the city is famous for, and he made a decision: He had started taking photographs as a hobby three months prior to his firing. In that walk, he decided to devote his time to continuing his photography because it was one of the few things that brought him joy.

It was an obsession that he felt would yield him a different kind of success. It’d grant him an internal respite from the two years of worrying about how financial markets were functioning or whether or not he’d have a job the next day. There were pictures of tree branches, land covered in snow, and various other little observations he made to play with his compositions.

At this point, Stanton had the inception of an idea that would propel him to the cultural phenomenon of his blog, but before he could do so, he needed to gather up some funds. Phone calls that both embarrassed and humiliated him were made to people he knew in the financial field. He managed to sell one of his photos for $300. It was a small token he could invest in the move that would change his life.

He reached New York City. He had a small studio apartment that served as a place to sleep. While he lived there, he started taking photographs of the city and its people. Although Stanton never crossed a simple social line, he kept to himself and played the observer. It wasn’t until another photograph helped break him away from simply being the man behind the camera.

The photo featured two children on a subway with their caretakers. Stanton, unaware about photographing strangers in public spaces, feared that it might be illegal until he got the nod of approval from one of the boys’ caretakers.

It dissolved something inside of him that he didn’t realize might be an impediment in his progression as a photographer and an artist.

He started talking to the people with his photographs. It made the two-dimensional space of his photography turn into a more nuanced project. With the desire to understand those pictured, Stanton learned just as much about himself as he did the people in his photographs. He learned how to effectively interview behind his lens but struggled to refine those skills over a period of a few years.

The blog’s audience grew exponentially and their Facebook page now sits at over 18 million likes.

Stanton stated his appreciation of the fanbase built around his Humans of New York blog. He also discussed the amount of discipline it took for him to continue his commitment to the blog throughout the years. It took years of feeling like his project might fail before it grew in popularity, spawning both a book and a Facebook video series.

The other contributor to Stanton’s success was invariably what he deemed “luck.” His resilience, coupled with the timing of Facebook experimenting with their newly released Pages, aided Stanton in his success.

However, he never wavers from the simple fact that his artistic discipline was integral to his success as well. He dedicated his time completely to his craft and discovered his process for his widely popular posts. In his discovery, he managed to uncover a lot more story that got lost in the images while also growing as a person himself.

The artistic discipline as a whole relies on this process of discovery because once an artist manages their perspective and expectation, they are free to express themselves in a manner of their choosing. It determines their command over the medium they choose to express their deepest desires and anxieties. It’s a means to be relentless in the face of our biggest internal struggles, but Stanton always reiterates his point that while his discipline earned him his process and craft, the rest of his success is still owed to blind circumstance.

You can watch Stanton’s newly released Humans of New York series here.

[Featured Image by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images]

Share this article: ‘Humans Of New York’ Creator Talks Origin Of His Blog And The Artistic ‘Discipline’ Needed For Its Success
More from Inquisitr