It’s probably the ultimate New York City experience: to catch the eye of photographer Brandon Stanton while walking down the street, and then be featured on his wildly-popular blog, “Humans of New York.”
Stanton has made a name for himself by featuring New Yorkers in their natural habitat, with all of their imperfections, fears, dreams, and fashion mishaps.
The photographs are important because they feature real people who haven’t been photoshopped into oblivion, but perhaps even more exceptional is how Stanton manages to bring out a deeply-relatable quote from each of his subjects (save for the ones too young to talk, that is — but their cuteness usually speaks for itself).
Now, Stanton is in Europe to document the refugee crisis the best way he can: by photographing refugees coming into Europe — most of them fleeing the conflict in Syria — and posting their annotated stories and photos online for his 20 million followers to experience.
For all of its drawbacks, social media is actually becoming a valuable platform for sharing news and multimedia content like HONY does. Considering that 70% of all internet users use Facebook daily — 45% even check Facebook several times a day — the content that Stanton uploads usually goes viral within minutes.
As Yahoo! News stated, Stanton started documenting the crisis on Friday, Sept. 25 by profiling an interpreter from Iraqi Kurdistan whom Stanton had befriended during a previous trip. Just over 30 photos were posted as of Tuesday, Oct. 6; almost all of the pictures have garnered hundreds of thousands of likes.
The United Nations has estimated that 12.2 million people are in need of aid after having been displaced from their homes in Syria; nearly half (5.6 million) in this group are children. Although plenty of media networks have covered the crisis, it seems that Stanton’s work has expressed the refugee crisis better than major networks simply because the world is seeing and experiencing the Syrian conflict through the lens of its victims.
All of the stories Stanton has posted “feature something horrendous and terrifying,” the New York Daily News said. But they also feature a couple things that are a bit more powerful: hope and compassion.