I’m currently in New York as I start writing this post, and I thought how opportune it would be to write about the page “Humans of New York (HONY)“. HONY is run by a guy named Brandon, who originally started capturing portraits of people on the streets of New York and posted them on his website. After awhile, he started interviewing his models and he included a snippet of his conversation in the captions of the photos. I’ve been following HONY for awhile now, from simply seeing portraits of people without any background, to seeing a glimpse of their thoughts. And I must say, the captions are what gave this page a whole new potential.
It’s true that pictures speak a thousand words. When we see a picture of someone, we are open to an infinite amount of interpretation, but we can only speculate on what we see. We can make generalized guesses, like this person looks happy, or sad, or confused. But when Brandon reveals the stories behind the faces, even if just a small portion, he gives us context about the person. We are drawn into not only the person’s superficial looks, but into their experiences, their past, and their thoughts. All of a sudden, we get a look at their inner life and a taste of their soul. To me, every story is so rich and valuable. There are stories of joy, loss, regret, innocence, hardship and worry. We don’t need to go far and wide to hear incredible and interesting life experiences. They are all around us; everyone walking the streets have a unique story to tell, and it is these individual stories that make someone beautiful as a human being. It is their hearts that determine their strength.
If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies, how different our ideals of beauty would be.
What I love most about these photos is its ability to bring out a sense of empathy in people. The comments under each picture are my favourite, because it brings together a community of support and sharing. It shows how much strangers are willing and capable of caring for another across the globe. Despite all the suffering humans have created and all the unfortunate incidences happening in our world, I’ve always believed that humans are beautiful and that the good in us outweighs the bad. I feel very strongly about this, and this entire “Humans of New York” project is enough to reinforce that humans have an immeasurable quality of love and compassion.