What has most interested me about Brandon Stanton’s phenomenal Humans of New York project is not, so much, the photos themselves — they’re nice street portraits but even Stanton will admit he’s not the best photographer in the world — it’s the level of intimacy he gains with his subjects in a brief amount of time.
Considering that Stanton is, literally, approaching total strangers on the streets of New York City and not only asking to take their picture but submitting them to a rather personal interview afterwards, it’s amazing he’s able to get such revealing results.
If you’ve ever wondered how Stanton does it, check out the mesmerizing video below, which is an excerpt from a recent talk he gave at the UC Literary & Historical Society at University College in Dublin, Ireland. (Stanton was on hand to receive the James Joyce Award from the society.)
In the video, titled “On how I approach strangers in the street,” Stanton walks an enthusiastic and often rapt crowd of students through his process of capturing street portraits. The part that’s most fascinating, at least to me, occurs at about the 12 minute-mark where he talks about how he gets a subject to answer questions in a specific, personal way rather than a broad, evasive way. It’s at this point that the audience seems to pull closer to Stanton, hanging on his every word while sharing a decidedly human moment.