New York City is a place for pictures. For some reason it’s always been a city where everyone evolves into their own unique persona, full of eccentric characters. Perhaps that’s something you’ll see in any city where people congregate from all points? Perhaps it’s the same way in others? The author had lived in Chicago before he came to New York, but it’s not going to be the same there. New York City draws people not just from the continent, but from all other nations as well.
Brandon Stanton, like a great many people here, was fascinated by the faces of the city. He started a Facebook page to display his photos, and his audience ballooned. He would go around the city looking for unusual characters to photograph, and he succeeded in finding some very unusual ones, each with a unique story. He found a janitor at Columbia University who’d studied at the school at night, and after 10 years, was now a Columbia graduate! There was an old man dropping in to see his wife at a nursing home, a cab driver and former French teacher from Niger, and some boys in a canoe in flooded Breezy Point. For some of the photos in this fascinating book, he provides info on the subject. But in others, he simply gives a description. One of the characters doesn’t give a name, but says “don’t shoot until the trucks move, I don’t want people to think we’re standing around doing nothing.”
My only fault with this book is that it may have had an unfair advantage. There have been a great many books like this, and it’s not unusual for a blog to become a bestseller. But this book had a massive following via facebook, which isn’t hard to do. Then again, maybe this is simply the age of social media? If this book hadn’t developed a great following in the first place, it would’ve been ignored, and that’s no good either. As for the photos themselves, they’re wonderful. Stanton frames the shots perfectly, and the colors are beautiful. But I think the book could be developed further as a text. Some of the subjects have interesting stories (like the girl who switched from ballet dancing to being a trapeze artist) and this could be a series of articles in a magazine.