On social media I follow a photographer who takes portraits of pedestrians across New York City. The popular project is called Humans of New York. The project started as a Facebook page and has expanded to be a best selling book, and is represented on every social media platform. The posts start off with a unique portrait taken candidly and end up being a short biography into the life of the subject, oftentimes a way to focus on certain non-profits or important issues. The photographer, Brandon Stanton, uses the format of a photo blog to tell stories. His stories could be the first time a couple met, or the complicated relationship someone has with their parents. The stories show a person as a unique individual and highlight their perspective; I love how both individuality and community are portrayed.
The subjects are as diverse as the city they inhabit: from toddlers in Central Park, to tourists in Times Square, street musicians on the metro, or businessmen on 5th Avenue. Stanton has used this platform to champion causes such as natural disasters, domestic violence, and most recently a rare childhood cancer told through portraits of a mother and child. What is strange but also familiar, are the narratives and stories. We all have stories, narratives and backgrounds, and the validation that comes from portraits is something that reminds us we are the center of a paradox. Every one of us has something to be told, and we are both unique individual and part of a larger community. We are together because we are not the only people in the world, and we are unique, because our experiences and our perspective is completely our own. Depression and drug addiction have ways of isolating us. In depression and anxiety it is difficult to see past the clouded emotions and feel unique or part of something bigger than ourselves. There is help for depression, and treatment through recovery for these isolating illnesses. Projects like Humans of New York remind us of this, that we are not alone, that we have unique stories and that we all have options. Remember to embrace your narrative, and to explore your recovery and community.