The other night at our neighborhood Bunco game, we played dirty Santa. Don’t you love to play dirty Santa? I like the anticipation of unwrapping a gift, so I rarely steal from someone else. But alas, I pick a gift to unwrap and then usually end up with a gift that I otherwise would not have picked. (This year the best worst gift I opened was an ornament shaped like a piece of bacon, which I so generously gave to my bacon loving friend Allison!) After this year’s round of dirty Santa games, I’ve concluded that for any future games, I will play it dirty and steal someone else’s gift! The gift I wish I had opened was a book titled Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton. The book is a collection of Stanton’s portraits of people he meets on the streets of New York, each telling small stories that “… are outsized in their humor, candor, and humanity”. I had yet to hear about it, but according to Amazon it is the top rated book of the year in Photography. And there are over 11,000,000 (now +1) fans on facebook. Where have I been?!
I love story telling through photography. We each have our own story of regrets, achievements, failures and favorite things as we grow older. You see people in a different light when you know their hidden truths.
Stanton writes, “I always cite this photo as representing the most emotional interaction that I’ve ever had on the street. I came across this 100 year old woman just south of Central Park. She was walking in a rainstorm with a very bright umbrella. After I took her photo, I got under the umbrella with her, and asked her for one piece of advice. She said: “I’ll tell you what my husband told me when he was dying. I asked him: ‘Mo, how am I supposed to live without you?’ And he told me: ‘Take the love you have for me and spread it around.'”
This book would make a great gift for the photographer in your family, or you can always follow along for free on Stanton’s Humans of New York blog.
If a stranger asked you to tell your story, what would you say?