Humans of New York founder tells his own story

By Sydney Shaw
News Editor

After losing his job as a bond trader in Chicago and announcing to his family that he wanted to become a full-time photographer, Brandon Stanton left everything behind and moved to a place he had visited only once before — New York City.

His goal: to photograph 10,000 strangers on the streets for a photoblog that came to be called “Humans of New York” (HONY). Stanton posts photos of these strangers, accompanied with snippets of their stories. Today, the Humans of New York Facebook page boasts almost 16 million likes.

Stanton says his love for biographies sparked his love for telling other people's stories. (Heiner Fallas / Photo Assistant)
Stanton says his love for biographies sparked his love for telling other people’s stories. (Heiner Fallas / Photo Assistant)

Stanton spent the evening in Kendall Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 17, to share his own story with the College and to encourage students to get familiar with failure.

“I would never have done Humans of New York if I hadn’t had put myself in the position to fall on my face in front of all my family and friends,” Stanton said in an interview with The Signal. “I moved to New York, with nothing but a history degree and two suitcases, and told all my family and friends I was gonna be a photographer… I set myself up for failure. I had no experience.”

While attending the University of Georgia, Stanton decided to major in history because of his love for biographies.

“If you think about what a biography is, it is a personal history,” he said. “So by falling in love with biographies, that’s where I decided that I wanted to be a history major. So if you extrapolate to photography being kind of a stepping stone to telling people’s stories… it goes from (studying) history to telling people’s histories.”

The photo captions on the Humans of New York page have not always included the subjects’ stories, though. The evolution of Stanton’s blog can be seen by comparing his two No. 1 New York Times bestselling books — “Humans of New York” and “Humans of New York: Stories,” released in 2013 and 2015, respectively. The books contain a compilation of Stanton’s photos from his photoblog.

“When the first book came out, it was mainly just photographs,” Stanton said. “So in the six months it took for that first book to be published, the blog had changed so much that when that first book came out, it didn’t even look like the blog anymore.”

In the captions of his photos, Stanton has begun to include longer quotes from the people he photographed. Over time, he realized his knack for approaching strangers and quickly developing a rapport with them.

Over the years, the Humans of New York photoblog has evolved to include longer captions of Stanton's subjects. (Heiner Fallas / Photo Assistant)
Over the years, the Humans of New York photoblog has evolved to include longer captions of Stanton’s subjects. (Heiner Fallas / Photo Assistant)

“It’s just always changing and it’s always evolving,” Stanton said. “It just comes out of me doing it every single day… I just keep getting more and more detail and more and more depth to these people’s stories, and the stories get longer and longer and longer.”

While the depths of the stories Stanton includes on the page have evolved, so has the impact of the page itself.

“The first time I found out that Humans of New York could really raise money was the first time I tried to raise money,” Stanton said. “Hurricane Sandy was the very first fundraiser we did. We raised a quarter of a million dollars.”

Since then, fans of Humans of New York have collaborated to raise money for those featured on the page, including a Pakistani man whose tractor was destroyed in an accident, to help end bonded labor in Pakistan and, most famously, for Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The page has also evolved into a tool to spread empathy across the world.

“I remember, people used to always come up to me on the streets and say, ‘My mom was so terrified of me moving to New York, but then I just showed her your blog and now she feels better,’” Stanton said. “I realized that through stopping random people on the street and meeting these strangers… it had a very empathizing, ameliorating effect on the image of a person, a neighborhood, a city and a place.

“Once I realized that power of Humans of New York, the more I started thinking, ‘Where could I apply that? Where is somewhere that is feared that I can go and photograph random people?’”

The first place Stanton traveled to was Iran in the summer of 2012. Since then, he has collected photographs in nearly 20 countries, including Iraq, Pakistan and Mexico.

“The reception of that was so amazing,” he said.

Stanton ended his lecture by sharing a secret with the 800 or so students in the audience.

“I’m working on a film,” he said. “I’ve done about 150 days of filming and nobody’s seen any of it. I’ve filmed over 600 HONY interviews.”

While he didn’t reveal a possible release date for the film, Stanton told audience members that it’s “awesome.”

“There’s a story in all of us that is filled with enough excitement, tragedy, love and heroism that it can captivate millions and millions of people,” he said.

Around the Dorm 11/18: One day fantasy sports, Panthers or Bengals and Kobe Bryant

In this week’s special edition of Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” George Tatoris, asks our panel of past and present sports editors three questions: Should DraftKings and FanDuel be illegal? Are the Panthers or Bengals more likely to make it to the Super Bowl and should Kobe Bryant play in the 2016 Olympics?

1.  Is New York state right about DraftKings and FanDuel? Should they be illegal?

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

Michael: I don’t agree with the ban if it’s permanent, it’s extremely dumb and gives New Yorkers more reason to come to the Garden State for their sports betting needs. The allegations and stories about how users were able to bet and make moves after the deadline make me think websites like DraftKings need either more security or some regulation. At the same time, New York shouldn’t be telling residents how they can and cannot spend their money with this being such a gray area. DraftKings and FanDuel aren’t typical sports betting websites since, when it’s done right and not by users messing with the system, smart people make money for their planned out strategies. It’s an unfortunate situation for New Yorkers who use the site, but I expect the websites to return to state residents in a few weeks after some tune ups are made. If not, internet proxies are an option for those who need their one day fantasy teams. Continue reading

Lions fall in opener

By Otto Gomez
Staff Writer

The Lions’ men’s basketball team opened up their 2015-16 season with a tough loss in the first game of Wheaton Tip-Off Tournament on Friday, Nov. 13, against Salve Regina by a score of 80-79. The team rebounded against Wheelock College on Saturday, Nov. 14, coming up with the 89-65 win.

While the team started off slow against Salve Regina in the first half, they picked up after ending the first half down, 49-40. They were able to start the second period off hot, erasing the nine-point deficit in less than five minutes.

Junior Nick Alaimo scores. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)
Junior Nick Alaimo scores. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

At one point the Lions took the lead, thanks to their very tough defense that held Salve Regina scoreless for the first five minutes of the second half. For the rest of the half, both teams battled back and forth, trading shots until the end of the game.

However, the team ended up on the wrong side of the one point margin, coming up just short of victory in the last seconds. Continue reading

Swimming cramps up

By Jessica Ganga
Features Editor

The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams made their way to the Big Apple this past weekend to compete against New York University (NYU). On Saturday, Nov. 14, both teams fell to NYU. Despite the losses, both teams performed well in various events and are focusing on the future, not allowing the one “L” in the column affect the rest of their season.

The men’s team lost a close meet to the NYU Violets, 151-147.

Once again, the Lions posted impressive numbers and dominated events in the water. Freshman Alex Skoog took first in two events from the meet. In the men’s 100-yard backstroke Skoog swam for a time of 52.24, just beating out his NYU opponent. Skoog competed in another close race, where he beat out an NYU swimmer by a second in the men’s 200-backstroke with a time of 1:52.61. Continue reading

These Warriors just won’t stop winning

By Matthew Ajaj
Staff Writer

Through the initial weeks of the 2015-16 National Basketball Association (NBA) season, one indisputable fact prevails — Stephen Curry is a very good basketball player. Averaging over 30 points per game in the young season and earning comparisons to the great Michael Jordan — Curry continues to find ways to improve despite already having received the NBA’s most coveted individual commemoration, the MVP award, just months ago. His dazzling dribbles, pretty passes and unparalleled shooting abilities led his Golden State Warriors squad to a championship last season and an 11-0 start to the 2015-16 season. Curry’s presence alone cements the Warriors as a championship contender.

The Golden Warriors celebrate their NBA championship win last June. (AP Photo)
The Golden Warriors celebrate their NBA championship win last June. (AP Photo)

At least, that is what ESPN wants to tell you. Believe it or not, the “Golden State Steph Curries” are anything but a one-man squad. Like every other team in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors dress 13 players each time they take the court — however, this baker’s dozen of basketball players blends better than any other. Continue reading

Fantasy Football: Jaguars step up play

By Sean Reis

For Week 11, I drafted a team that will fit in your weekly budget featuring a couple of very high-budget players. However, I also suggest drafting Matt Ryan, Lamar Miller or Danny Amendola, depending on your opinion. Good luck!


Derek Carr ($6,300) — Since the start of the season, week after week, I have been skeptical of the Oakland Raiders offense. However, with the half of the season done, I am finally a believer. I trust Carr as a low-budget pick against the Detroit Lions in Week 11.

Running Backs:

Devonta Freeman ($8,400) — My first of two high-budget players this week, Freeman is the top back in the league. At $8,400, Freeman definitely has a high pricetag, but you will receive what you are paying for. Continue reading

Lions beat Rowan

The Lions finish 2015 with a win. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)
The Lions finish 2015 with a win. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

By Anthony Caruso
Staff Writer

The College’s football team was motivated to win their last game of the season and end on a high mark. Under the Friday night lights on Nov. 13, the Lions were able to do exactly what they wanted to and win their fourth straight game against Rowan University.

Away in Glassboro, N.J., at Coach Wacker Stadium, the Lions defeated the Rowan Profs, 20-0, to close out their season. Continue reading

Lions eliminated from NCAA play

By Michael Battista
Sports Editor

The Lions started and ended their NCAA tournament journey this past weekend, beating St. Lawrence University in the first round, 4-1, on Saturday, Nov. 14, and falling to Williams College on Sunday, Nov. 15, 3-0, in the second round of play.

The St. Lawrence Saints came into their first tournament game in school history since 1986 with an impressive 13-4-2 record, while the Lions were coming into their 25th straight tournament appearance with a 12-3-4 record.

The College took the lead early and didn’t look back when freshman midfielder Arielle Curtis was able to knock in a goal just under four minutes into the game. After the goal, the Lions had a few chances that went wide and high past the net, but in the 28th minute, junior defenseman Marissa Scognamiglio scored her first goal of the night, with an assist from sophomore midfielder Elizabeth Thoresen, putting the team up, 2-0.

The Saints quickly retaliated, proving why they deserved to be in this tournament, getting one passed senior goalkeeper Jessica Weeder to cut the Lions’ lead in half.

The first half quickly ended after that, but the College didn’t let the short break put any hinges in their play. Senior defenseman Brianna Cummings scored just 57 seconds into the second half, giving the Lions a 3-1 lead.

Senior defender Brianna Cummings attacks the Saints. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)
Senior defender Brianna Cummings attacks the Saints. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

Sophomore midfielder Jessica Goldman said the team finishing on offense was the main difference between Saturday and Sunday.

“We played very well on Saturday and finished the chances we got,” Goldman said. “I think that was the difference between Saturday and Sunday — we finished our chances. Missy (Scognamiglio) played extremely well and had a part in every attack. Our back line was really strong throughout the entire game. Continue reading

Campus Style

By Jordan Koziol

Name: Nadia Olesnycky

Year: Sophomore

Major: Graphic Design

Olesnycky rocks a trendy poncho. (Photo courtesy of Jordan Koziol)
Olesnycky rocks a trendy poncho. (Photo courtesy of Jordan Koziol)

This week, Campus Style caught up with Nadia Olesnycky, a sophomore graphic design major. We talked color palettes, stylish jackets and Ukranian influence. Read on!

JK: Tell me about what you’re wearing.

NO: My cream-colored fringed poncho is from PacSun and my gray skater dress is from Urban Outfitters. I paired the outfit with wool socks and brown leather booties from Forever 21. Continue reading

Celebritease: Angels on the runway

By Mackenzie Cutruzzula
Sports Editor

This year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show began filming 45 minutes late on Tuesday, Nov. 10, but when the show began it went off without a hitch. Unlike last year, which created one of the Internet’s most popular memes when Ariana Grande collided with model Elsa Hosk on the runway, the show ran smoothly. This year’s lavish show featured Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid walking the catwalk for the first time and featured performances by Selena Gomez, Ellie Goulding and The Weeknd.

Jenner walks the Victoria’s Secret runway for the first time. (AP Photo)
Jenner walks the Victoria’s Secret runway for the first time. (AP Photo)

Supermodel Maria Borges broke barriers by walking the runway without the signature long, wavy locks worn by the other models. Borges instead wore her hair naturally curly and short, looking flawless and skipping the makeup chair fuss.   

Also missing from this year’s fashion show was Angel staple Karlie Kloss, who is on hiatus from the modeling industry to study at New York University (NYU). Her best friend, Taylor Swift, also wasn’t available to take the catwalk as she is busy taking her “1989” tour international, traveling to Asia to perform. Continue reading

Fraternities join together to raise money for diabetes

By Alexa Kelber

The brothers of Delta Epsilon Psi (DEPsi) and Delta Tau Delta (DTD) co-hosted a philanthropic week for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) from Monday, Nov. 9, to Friday, Nov. 13. A variety of fundraisers and awareness events took place daily around the College’s campus, inviting students to learn about Type 1 diabetes in a casual and unconventional setting.

“We were looking to years passed to figure out an event for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation,” said Aakash Trivedi, a junior biomedical engineering major and brother of DEPsi. “Five guys in our newest pledge class had the idea to plan a whole week around it.” Continue reading

Classic Signals: BSU holds emergency rally

Every week, Features Editor Jessica Ganga hits the archives and finds old Signals that relate to current College topics and top stories.

In 2000, students gather for an emergency rally. (Jessica Ganga / Features Editor)
In 2000, students gather for an emergency rally. (Jessica Ganga / Features Editor)

In the past week, students on college campuses across the country have been coming together to show solidarity with the University of Missouri (Mizzou). Mizzou’s students have been leading protests due to racial slurs and issues regarding how the administration has not been addressing the situation. The College’s Black Student Union (BSU) supported Mizzou on Monday, Nov. 16 by hosting a blackout where students dressed in all black to show solidarity. In 2000, Conor Fortune reported on a rally that BSU held in response to biased issues on our own campus. Continue reading

Brown Bag discusses mission to improve the soil

By Victoria Herlocher

Haikes speaks about the dangers of lead in soil. (David Colby / Staff Photographer)
Haikes speaks about the dangers of lead in soil. (David Colby / Staff Photographer)

When Belinda Haikes, an assistant professor in the College’s Department of Art and Art History, moved to Fishtown, Pa., she was thrilled to have a small backyard — a rarity in the Philadelphia suburb. Haikes planted tomatoes and basil in hopes of starting a garden. Her neighbor asked if she planned on eating them. What Haikes learned next shocked her. 

Haikes shared her story to students and faculty during a Brown Bag Lecture in Mayo Concert Hall on Friday, Nov. 13. Continue reading

New organization brings awareness to prison system

By Elise Schoening
Review Editor

While people like to think of the United States as one of the most progressive and free countries in the world, it is indisputable that the great nation has its fair share of flaws. If the past year has taught people anything, it’s that the U.S. continues to struggle with systematic racism, police brutality, gender inequality and healthcare policies. What hasn’t made the news, however, is the growing issue of mass incarceration.

It’s in SPEAR’s future plans to tutor prisoners. (AP Photo)
It’s in SPEAR’s future plans to tutor prisoners. (AP Photo)

It’s ironic that people so often refer to the United States as the land of the free when the country, in fact, has the highest incarceration rate in the world. According to Amnesty International, Americans make up roughly 5 percent of the world’s population. Yet, the U.S. contributes almost a quarter of the total amount of prisoners worldwide. Continue reading

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