If you don’t know Brandon, you definitely know his work. Brandon is the creator of Humans of New York which has accumulated over 25 million followers and has since evolve to include two NYT-bestselling books (Humans of New York and Humans of New York: Stories) and a Humans of New York show on Facebook Watch. It has also spawned an entire genre of similar blogs, photo projects, with thousands of aspiring creators having been inspired by HONY’s footsteps, telling the stories of people and communities across the world. Oh ya, and he’s raised millions for charity.
Lucky me, Brandon has been a friend for several years. And he once gave an amazing lecture to kick off PhotoWeek at CreativeLive. It is THIS talk that I share with you today… It’s his story, and it’s insanely inspiring. From humble beginnings – fired from his job and with almost no money to speak of, moved to NYC to chase his dreams…living in a closet and taking pictures of strangers. You’ll hear (literally) about his first ‘like’ on social media, and track his arc through today where he exemplifies the gold standard for building community on the internet — Brandon shares the whole journey. If you know his work, you also know it’s all about OTHER PEOPLE and not him… That’s another reason to listen. This talk is a rare, exclusive, treat – not to miss.
A few topics from this episode:
- There’s a subtle but crucial mind shift that needs to happen if you want mental freedom. You need to consciously decide what you’re going to spend your brain power on and consciously decide what you’re not. Focus on the things that make you feel the way you want to feel and do the things you want to be doing.
- You can plan all you want, but you won’t know if your plan works until you start executing it. The original Humans of New York plan looks nothing like what the project has turned into today.
- Choosing the work that you do is a better goal than not working at all. Following your dreams is hard work, but success is getting to spend every day doing what you want to be doing. Worth it.
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Watch the Episode
If you love this episode, you might also want to check out the video version of this talk to see some of the photos he shares during his talk.
In This Episode, You Will Learn:
- How Brandon went from flunking out of college to being fired from his prestigious job as a bond trader to choosing his own path. [6:04]
- How Humans of New York started with Brandon selfishly asking himself what he would do if he spent all his time doing only what he wanted to be doing. [8:30]
- Brandon got into photography as an escape from the stresses of his life. [10:00]
- How Brandon trained his eye by taking 50 photos of every subject and then later culling through them, which taught him to dissect what worked and what didn’t. [11:35]
- Once Brandon figured out how his photography style was a little bit unique, he focused on doing just that. [13:30]
- You can’t plan away risk and you can’t wait for perfect. [17:20]
- How HONY has evolved from being a blog of 30 second snapshots of strangers on the street to one that’s about creating a safe space to connect with other humans. [24:00]
- Whether he’s interviewing a stranger or Hillary Clinton, Brandon uses the same methodology to get personal, quickly. [27:00]
- The goal is not to not work, the goal is to choose the work that you want to do. [30:00]
- Question from the audience: “How do you decide what to put in your blog?” [32:07]
- Question from the audience: “How do you record your interviews and what is the transition between your interview and taking photographs like?” [35:05]
- Why stories are such a powerful communication device. [35:30]
- Question from the audience: “What percentage of rejection did you initially get?” [37:00]
- Question from the audience: “What made you want to go into correctional facilities and interview inmates?” [39:44]
This podcast is brought to you by CreativeLive. CreativeLive is the world’s largest hub for online creative education in photo/video, art/design, music/audio, craft/maker, money/life and the ability to make a living in any of those disciplines. They are high quality, highly curated classes taught by the world’s top experts — Pulitzer, Oscar, Grammy Award winners, New York Times best selling authors and the best entrepreneurs of our times.