REVIEW: Humans

If you're not already familiar with the Humans project (AKA Humans of New York, HONY, Humans of New York: Stories), you're missing out on something big.

Brandon Stanton, an author, photographer, and blogger, started the project in 2010 by taking portraits of people in and around New York City. With each portrait he included small snippets of his conversations with the subjects. Stanton's project gained a following quickly and it wasn't long before he was working outside of the New York borders.

Humans, a deceptively simple but direct name for his third book, takes Stanton to over forty countries where he photographed and interviewed countless individuals and families. Each photo in the book is accompanied by words from the subjects. The quotes range from funny observations made by children to harrowing tales of neglect and redemption. They're sad, quirky, shocking, surprising - but most importantly, they make it clear to the reader very quickly that it's possible to connect with other humans no matter the distance or cultural divide.

Humans is a great way to become aware of your initial judgement of a person based on appearance. Stanton takes beautiful photos - sometimes a full body portrait, other times simply a hand in frame. Either way, he manages to capture emotion in the natural posture and movement of his subjects. Readers will find themselves glancing at the photo, reading a quote, and then taking a much closer look at the person staring out from the pages.

The introduction of the book briefly outlines the (stressful) process that Stanton goes through as he searches for subjects. But he also makes a point to remind readers that all aspects of the Humans project, from the early days of the blog to books that sold 30,000 copies on pre-order alone, are about bridging the gap.

Humans couldn't have come out at a better time. In the midst of the 2020 pandemic and the obvious divisions going on in the world, we're reminded that human connection is necessary to keep us motivated, keep us empathetic, and keep us conscious of the struggles of others.

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