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A photographer’s vision

Brandon Stanton has collected images from his popular Humans of New York series into books.

ALBANY, NY (September 30, 2016) – A little girl in a purple jacket, mouth wide open in glee, is holding an orange plastic basket on a gritty city sidewalk. The caption: “She was collecting rocks.”

Another photo shows two ballet dancers in street clothes, standing in arabesque over traffic cones in the middle of a street, a backdrop of steam rising from a manhole. There are photos of people holding pets or holding hands, wearing fedoras, berets or turbans, a little boy in a batman costume, an old man with a full white beard.

Just some of the 8.5 million human beings in New York City.

Brandon Stanton, the photographer who’s given voice to the individuals in the crowds of New York, is coming to UAlbany Oct. 8, during Homecoming Weekend. He’ll be showing photos and speaking at 8 p.m. at the SEFCU Arena, part of the Speakers Series. Registration for the event is free and open to the public.

Stanton’s “Humans of New York” began as a Facebook page of New York City portraits and is now a bona fide Internet sensation, with nearly 18 million Facebook likes, 480,000 Twitter followers and almost 6 million Instagram followers.

The series has also traveled the globe. In 2014, Stanton partnered with the United Nations to collect portraits and stories from several countries, including India, Iraq, Israel, Mexico, Uganda and Ukraine.

Stanton has used the popularity of “Humans of New York” for charitable pursuits. A recent series of photos taken at New York's Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center was used to raise money for pediatric cancer treatment. In a recent post on the “Humans of New York” website, Stanton said that this had helped raise almost $3.4 million.

Stanton, a Georgia native, began “Humans of New York” after moving to New York City in August, 2010.

“My initial plan was to take 10,000 street portraits to plot on an interactive map,” Stanton wrote in a Huffington Post piece. “Creating a photographic census of the city.”

That started on Facebook, with Stanton filling albums with his portraits. Then he began interviewing his subjects and including their stories with the photos he posted, giving insight into the humor, tragedy, drama and insight of people’s lives.

Content from Stanton’s series has been collected into three successful books. Humans of New York, his first book, was published in October 2013 and stayed on The New York Times Non-Fiction Bestsellers list for 28 weeks, twice hitting the No. 1 spot. Humans of New York: Stories was published in 2015, focusing on the subjects’ voices, and Little Humans contains portraits of his young subjects.

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