On Sunday, at a Comic Con panel dedicated to his upcoming book Little Humans, Brandon Stanton of the wildly popular Humans of New York (HONY) blog shared what he thought brought his success.
Stanton, like many of the people who are featured on and follow this site, is a storyteller.
If you don’t know HONY the site is part photography blog and part photojournalism without specifically being either. Stanton will find random people on the street, whoever catches his eye and asks to take their photo. Stanton pairs his photos with stories from the subjects which can be one sentence answers to questions, paragraph long stories describing their best or worst moments, to something interesting they did that day. The end result is special- it’s not your normal street photography.
I can’t really categorize his work and that’s what he was going for:
“it is more important to be different than it is to be good.”
From his untrained and completely self-taught photo techniques Stanton grew to be an internet sensation with over 10 million fans and just completing a UN sponsored tour.
What he offers is a view of the world we haven’t seen before- or at least- not the way he does.
“You have to be consistent even when you know no one is paying attention.”
This is one of the most difficult things to do. But this is also the truest advice. You need to write, make art, and practice your craft every damn day. Even if you know no one is taking notice, you need to do it for yourself because:
“the lion’s share of the effort comes before you have your first true fan”
To get to that one fan, the one who found you and likes your work because of what it is- not because they’re a friend of a friend or family member- you have to always have something to show. You have to keep promoting yourself and you have to be present- which isn’t too hard in today’s social media world.
But, as Stanton says, the internet and prevalence of social media is a “double-edged sword.”
“Everyone is vying to be heard.”
Which is why you have to be the most unique, the most disciplined, and the most confident. Even if you didn’t produce your best work today, you will keep working until you do.
Write everyday even if it’s crap- put something out there. Because, you need to know how to make mistakes and learn from them.
“Formal education is dangerous, school teaches you how to do something right. If you wanna make something cool you need to learn to make mistakes.”
That one kind of speaks for itself.