South By Southwest (SXSW) is in full swing, with music filling the streets and Austin's celebrity population at its annual peak, so even as we're hard at work we try and make it out for some of the festivities. Last night I had the pleasure of meeting Humans of New York's (HONY) Brandon Stanton and see him speak at the Yahoo Tech Mix at SXSW.
Stanton has a truly amazing story, having left a finance job in Chicago to photograph people on the street in New York, his images and the accompanying captions have touched fans across the world and united thousands behind noble efforts. In a lively, entertaining conversation, Stanton recounted how HONY has grown and evolved into one of the most influential photography sites in the world (4+ million Facebook followers), as well as a New York Times bestselling book, and where he sees HONY in the future. In probably the most surprising theme of the discussion for me, Stanton continually spoke of how he isn't a very talented photographer, and that the reason HONY has been so successful has been the stories that accompany his images. This was a very powerful point, and one we at Live Oak Legacies also believe.
Afterward, over tacos and Topo Chicos, we expanded on the discussion in the context of story capture. I explained Live Oak Legacies and another friend mentioned a related project he has been working on. At some point, someone was explaining the importance of stories for our elderly, and used the term "stories are currency." I thought this was a very accurate description, and something many of us can relate to. Overall, it was a great night and a thoughtful discussion. Turns out sometimes you can get work done while enjoying SXSW.
If you aren't familiar with Humans of New York yet, check out Brandon Stanton's amazing work on Facebook - www.facebook.com/humansofnewyork.