Brandon Stanton, a former bond trader in Chicago, is now a city legend, thanks to his incredible project “Humans of New York”. Brandon walks around the city with his camera, capturing New Yorkers and their stories. He then posts the photos on social networks alongside with quotes and expressions by the people he shoots. The blog conveys the message that every human is special, each person has a story worth sharing, that everyone should be celebrated and put on the stage. The blog has millions of fans, they support each other, raising awareness of important issues and providing comfort for those who need it. “Humans of New York” reminds us that the world, after all, is a happy place full of kind pure people, beautiful on the inside and outside. We share Brandon’s philosophy and believe that memories are worth being kept and shared. This month we feature the collection of our favorite stories captured in May.
“I tried to prank him one time by putting a tuna fish sandwich in his bedside drawer. But the prank ended up being on both of us because I forgot about it for weeks.”
“I’m trying to look at my phone less.”
You photographed my wife Megan and me on New Years Eve in 2013, on fifth avenue. We were on our way from the opera to ring in 2014 at the 21 club. When you shared our photo on your site, your caption was that we met in Austria, on a train, in the snow.
On Monday Megan gave birth to our daughter Lotte (our first child), who had been diagnosed with a serious congenital heart defect (HLHS). On Thursday she underwent open heart surgery for nine hours. Although the procedure was technically a success, an unexpected complication prevented them from taking off the heart lung bypass in the OR. The surgeon made an unprecedented decision to keep her on ECMO (life support) for a few days to allow her heart to rest, so that they could try again to restart it.
She has basically been in stable condition, but over night developed some complications that necessitate trying to start weaning her off the machine today. I have no words to describe the torture we feel as parents, when all we can do is sit by our daughter’s beside, trying not to look at the tubes and wires coming out of her open chest, and holding her cold little hand. I had two magical days with Lotte, who before the surgery was basically a “normal” baby. We got to touch her, feed her, change her, and we’re so lucky to even see her open her eyes. I’m not a religious person so I’ve not prayed, but I constantly close my eyes and picture Lotte with her beautiful eyes open. I’m not sure I’ll ever see those eyes again, but I’m so thankful that I have them in my mind.
I wanted to ask whether you could somehow help us increase awareness of pediatric congenital heart disease, which is sadly not widely known and publicized. It’s especially hard for Megan that today is Mother’s Day, and perhaps you could share a photo of Lotte on your site. Doing so would not only inform your readers of this important and terrible condition, but help us hear the support of others.
Thank you so much.
“I want to be a wildlife biologist. I really, really, really like animals. I like that lizards have really long tongues, and cheetahs can run really fast, and armadillos have hard shells. I spend a lot of time thinking about what it would be like to not be a human. Like what would it be like to fly? It would also be interesting to not have to go shopping for food, or worry about money. And you could go anywhere you want as long as there weren’t predators nearby. One time my dad brought me some quills from an African Crested Porcupine, and I accidentally broke one of them, and I saw that even though it was hard on the outside, it was soft and spongy on the inside. And it’s been my favorite animal ever since.”
“I also want to be a writer. I’m actually working on a book right now. It’s a series. When you’re writing a book, you’ve really got to open your imagination. Your book can’t just be about a mean person who eats a banana and learns a lesson, because that’s boring. There needs to be a lot of different parts. There needs to be a protagonist, an antagonist, and some people that you’re not really sure about because that adds mystery. And you can take inspiration from other writers, but don’t plagiarize. My mom and dad are teachers, and they fail anyone who plagiarizes.”
“God sends me little moments all day long to say: ‘You’re not alone, brother.’ Just a little while ago, an old hunched-over Chinese lady smiled at me with the greatest warmth in her eyes.”
“And you think that was a message from God?”
“I think that was God.”
“All my ex-wives were pains in the ass. And I love every one of them.”
Early last night Lotte suffered a brain hemorrhage, and it became clear that her mounting medical problems and the growing risk of additional complications made the chances of her recovering and leading a life of sound body and mind less and less likely. Out of love for her, Megan and I made the terrible decision to discontinue the artificial support of her life on ECMO. It was the hardest thing we have ever had to do, but we feel comforted knowing that she never suffered, and that we bore all of her pain. Had she lived and become aware of her medical condition we couldn’t have continued to do so, and weren’t willing to force her into a life of perpetual suffering and struggle. We’ll never forget the three magical days we had with our daughter, and though we are grieving profoundly, know that she will be with us forever in spirit. Someday we will tell her siblings about their wonderful older sister Lotte, whom we loved so much.
Since Lotte’s story has evoked such an outpouring of kindness, I wonder whether you would share the end of the story with your readers. As an image, perhaps you could share this photo of her footprints, which one of the social workers made the day before he surgery. She will walk with us forever.
“I want to be an astronaut.”
“What’s the hardest part about being an astronaut?”
“Pressing the right buttons at the right time.”
“I’m not sure what it is about this job, but the chicks love it. I used to wear a suit and tie to work—nothing. Now I get photographed more than The Beatles.”
“Dad, please don’t say anything stupid.”
We publish our favourite city stories each month, stay tuned. Curious for more Humans of New York? Check out the blog and the Facebook page!