How to Create Your Own Humans Of Movement In Your City
Recently I have gravitated towards the Humans of New York movement.
Humans of New York is a movement that captures the essence of the big Apple, the people. Brandon Stanton, the man behind the success of HONY, started Humans of New York after moving to New York.
You can tell that Brandon loves the city and the stories of the people that dwell in this city. He has only been photographing people for 3 years but his interpersonal skills are phenomenal. Brandon is a true inspiration to Street Photographers and Photographers in general.
He approaches people in a respectful manner and asks politely if he can take their picture, but it doesn't stop there. Taking a photograph is one thing but forging a bond is another thing.
Brandon interviews his subjects and most are comfortable enough to respond. Their responses usually accompany the pictures.
Check out the video below to witness his awesome interpersonal skills.
Humans of New York has grown rapidly as evidenced by the 2.5 million Facebook Followers that the page has amassed. Furthermore, Brandon was able to capitalize on his unique brand of Street Photography by creating the New York Times Bestselling book Humans of New York.
Brandon's innovation strategy has also inspired photographers around the world to create similar movements in their prospective city.
I made it my mission to ask other Humans of Pages if they could share tips for those looking to start a Humans of Page.
Some of them responded to this simple question. "I was wondering if could you please share one tip for those looking to start a Humans Of Page?" Their responses are below (this is an ongoing post).
"Hi. Thanks for your interest in Humans of Seoul. Each humans of page has own characteristics. For example, Humans of Amsterdam focuses more on diversity than others do. Humans of Seoul addresses more about humanity since Koreans are only known for hardworking attitude, in general.
Other than that, see some pages that deal with somewhere we normally don't know much about, for example, Humans of Tehran. I often get surprised, seeing the page. We've been with so many prejudices about people in the distinct culture." - Humans of Seoul
"Honestly, no tips. Just get out there and start talking to people first. Once the stories flow in, you'll start getting it. If you need any specific advice I'll be more than happy to help!" - Humans of Singapore
"My tip would be to create a place where all people are equally valued. For some that may be easy but others will have to push themselves out of their comfort zones to accomplish that. And remember you are no better and no worse than anyone you photograph.
And if you want to go the practical route...always carry business cards! (I should take my own advice. lol)" - Humans of Syracuse
"Be confident and kind, and always smile when approaching somebody" - Humans of Jerusalem
"Our advice would be to be brave and carious. And try to really listen what people have to say. Sometimes there is a magic in the smallest thing they say." - Humans of Zagreb
"I would suggest studying classical painting and photography so, when you go out to shoot, you have some good composition base. Another tip is smile when you approach people and don't go too deep into explaining the project. It is better to ask if they would allow you to take their picture and then, during the interview, you can explain. In this kind of page I think it is more powerful if the person looks at the camera.
Try to show background in every picture so it has geographical information. It is a good idea to change the style, so one picture can be more of a close up, another one middle perspective and others more open. What makes this project exciting for me is to keep learning, innovating and contributing to a better world with our art. I hope this helps." - Humans of Spain
"To be really honest, if you need tips, then don't do it. It's very simple: Go out and take pictures and make little stories. Don't try to copy other 'humans' pages, just do your own thing, make us look over your shoulder and show us your town." - Humans of Utrecht
"Be likable. Be respectful. Don't write down whatever they say when they say it. Memorize it. Memorize their faces. Look into their eyes. Be interested. Remember them. Be honest when you make your post." - Humans of Karachi
"I would say its important to be aware of people's vulnerabilities and especially one's own. When I reach out to people I have to put them first." - Humans of Oslo (MVBO)
"I would say don't be shy about taking a bit of time to set up a good shot. At first I just took a picture as fast as I could because I was afraid that the people would be annoyed, and the photos weren't very good. Now I try to take the time I need, and the photos are much better for it." - Humans of Ann Arbor
"Just do it! Start it." - Humans of Rio de Janeiro
"I'm not sure what tips I can give others except to say you have to really like doing it if you are going to be in it for the long haul." - Humans of the Fiji Islands
"I would suggest letting people know that rejection is normal and should not be taken personally. Keep pursuing people that seem interesting." - Humans of Los Angeles
"We're fairly new to this, so we're not sure how helpful our tip would be, but if we have learnt anything in the past few months we've been running this page, it is the importance of being a good listener. Sure, one needs to be a fairly decent photographer, but the Humans Of phenomenon transcends those boundaries, and that's where good listening skills will come in handy." - Humans of New Delhi
"I would say to use HONY as a guide but make the page your own. My page has evolved a lot since I created it a few months ago. I still take random photos of people on the street but if your city or town makes that difficult, you have to be creative. In my situation, I started taking photos of the interesting people I know and have now moved to small local businesses in town to give them some exposure." - Humans of Montgomery
"Master the craft of storytelling - in crazy winds, with impatient subjects, on quiet streets. When you tell a good story despite all the odds, you score a mini victory. Then you do it again." - Humans of Sackville
"1. Try to approach people from the front (rarely from their side) never from their back. Even if they agree to talk to you the level of unconscious stress induced by a total stranger stopping them from behind will surely create an emotional response that will damage the 'interview' in some way.
2. Be polite and smile.
3. I've noticed that the newly approached people are somewhat a mirror of myself, so if I am calm and collected with a deep and soothing voice when talking to them, they will be the same. On the contrary, if I am agitated and nervous this behavior will be transmitted onto them.
4. Background is as important as your subject. I've found that if a person agrees to have their photo taken, they will also in most cases agree for you to tell them where to sit. So move them around to your liking and put them in a scene that best reflects the environment.
5. Be genuinely interested in people. I know this one is subjective, but if you find your interest in what the person next to you has to say then your whole energy level will change and the response will be friendlier, more open, casual and positive. Just think about it this way - you have something to learn from every person you meet in your life.
6. When approaching someone try to make them feel like they are a part of something greater. I always tell them that I am trying to reveal the true face of the city by taking portraits of people that I meet along the way. Tell them that they are very expressive, that they caught your attention and that you would be delighted to take their picture. Refusal rate will drop heavily." - Humans of Bucharest
"Humans of Bangladesh focuses on 'crowd-sourcing' the content from different photographers. We call for compelling images from photographers who work in different district of the country. Since HoB is targeting to represent humans from an entire country, we think this approach is suitable. It's impossible for one/two photographers to travel to different parts of a country, and Bangladesh has a population of 160 millions!
So, our tip is, if you want to focus on a larger region than one single city (the entire country in our case), call for images from photographers all around the country." - Humans of Bangladesh
"Step into your subjects frequency (or world)" - Humans of K Road
"The hardest job in the world is not working in the mine, it's taking photographs of women in an Islamic country! with lots of religious beliefs and other funny ideas about photography. So try not to take photographs of women in a Islamic country..." - Humans of Shiraz
"The greatest tip I could give is something that a Human of Saint John herself told me and that's "Don't get comfortable". In other words, never let your comfort zone get in the way of you getting up every day and making images. Sharing stories is one of the most natural and beautiful things in the world, and you might not realize it at the time, but you can affect the people around you in a very positive way through storytelling." - Humans of Saint John
"When we post stories, it's always about the people we are talking to, not the photographer. We try never to say I." - Humans of Akureyi
"If ever you see someone you'd like to photograph, DON'T BE SHY AND GO ASK HIM OR HER, because you have nothing to lose and you may regret not having taken the picture afterwards." - Humans of Paris
"Don't hesitate, start now!" - Humans of Hong Kong 18
"The first step for me is to overcome the fear, the fear of the unknown of being misunderstood or rejected. All this becomes easier with experience, so the more you get out and shoot the easier it will be. You will gain more confidence and people will feel it and became more willing to be photographed.
The second step is to have time ... You will not be able to have a page similar to Brandon's (HONY) shooting only 1 or 2 times a week... It had to be a full-time "job", which is very difficult!
Try to be yourself, "humans of" are not expected to be all the same, what I find most important is to try to show your city through the people who live there or who pass there. Finally, and this is my case, if you do not have much time and have children etc, then you must accept collaborators with some few rules, and you will see how interesting it is to see other perspectives.
Remember, you can not be everywhere at the same time.
Go ahead and do it, the project "human of" makes us more human." - Humans of Lisbon
"Never judge a book by its cover, be confident, always be respectful." - Humans of Washington DC
"People you approach are somewhat the reflection of you and will tend to indirectly respond to how you carry yourself. If you are in a bad mood, people get that negative vibe and if you are in a good mood people respond positively. Dont rush through it if possible, take you time, get to know the person and smile, always smile!
Also treat those people around you as you'll want yourself to be treated. No one is more important that the other, everyone is equal. The next person's opinion, story or answers is as important as the other. Respect.
Most importantly is to not be discouraged if you do get declined or rejected, don't take it personally. there is always another great potrait/story out there." - Humans of Malaysia
"I started this page because it seemed like a lot of fun to approach random people and learn little things about them - but I'm a senior year high school student, preparing for college...so I lack a very important thing to make a successful page- time! So my tip, is to make sure you have some time for it, time to interact with people and follow it up with the upload on your page!" - Humans of South India
"Be intuitive, extremely hearty and honest to whoever you talk to. Use your heart to capture that moment of their lives, things will turn out just fine." - Humans of Bangkok
"It is very important to capture the soul of the inhabitants, their variations and what makes them unique.
The Human movement is special because it is humanizing the places and highlighting how the people are the core of the place and they are the ones who make it special so you need to do enough research, avoid stereotypes, be gradual and keep the decorum." - Humans of Nubia
"As Humans of Australia is covering such a large continent and not a town I have began more to focus on collaboration. Getting all sorts of people to photograph all sorts of humans.
I feel like the important thing is to be kind. To approach every subject with an understanding and acceptance of where they're coming from. With a number of "Humans of" based on cities in Australia I wanted Humans of Australia to show an international audience how diverse our beautiful country is." - Humans of Australia
"When you take a photo, if you're doing it right, you are simply extending your ability to listen and telling the person that they are worth it. Just remember to really listen, this is something you'll get better at, and to be honest it is all you need." - Humans of Kingston
"For us, "Humans of Ahwaz" is more about people and their stories rather than pictures and their quality. So our tip would be to be affable and smile when you're approaching someone so that they feel free to share. Be respectful and polite.
You have to improve your social skills because you want people to trust you (hopefully with a secret of some sorts) and to do that you have to know what questions you should ask from each person. When telling them about where you're going to share their pictures try not to complicate things. Make them feel that they're a part of a greater group of people, that they belong. And remember everyone has something interesting to say.
So don't go only for the weird style and the colorful hair. And in the end it's important to set your goals straight. You know? "What do you want to achieve from this?" sort of thing. For example our take on Humans of was to show people that you can never judge a book by it's cover. We hope this helps." - Humans of Ahwaz
"I guess the best tip is photograph as many people as you can and really get to know them. People open up to you when you are interested in them and their stories." - Humans of Papua New Guinea
"Always look people in the eyes, smile, and say something you like about them. If you keep the attention on them you don't have to worry about being nervous." - Souls of San Francisco
"If someone is looking to start their own Humans project, I would suggest using what HONY and the rest of us have done as a starting point, but to be open to taking your own project in your own direction. There is no "code" saying that the process or the result has to look or feel a certain way. I love the different flavors and approaches each photographer and interviewer takes. Allow yourself room for the creative process. It sounds so cliche, but follow your heart to where the project takes you." - Humans of Portland
"Thank you for your interest in my party HUMANS OF WROCLAW. I was inspired by HONY and think it's a great project, approximates people, providing information on cities and populations. Wroclaw is one of the greatest Polish cities, there are more than a thousand years. It has about 800,000 people. It is their present to the world, I think the idea of Brandon Stanton's very good." - Humans of Wroclaw
"I guess the main thing I would say is don't be afraid to talk to people, most people want to tell their story." - Humans of Melbourne
Image provided by Danny Stanford