humans of new york
It’s a common occurrence to browse on a social media site and see “#firstworldproblems.” Along with this hashtag come complaints of not wanting to wake up and go to work, food not being exactly how its partaker would like it and many times how technology is not working properly.

In contrast, this past week, Humans of New York photographer Brandon Stanton embarked on a world tour. Partnered with the U.N. and with the support of the Secretary General’s Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group, he is traveling 25,000 miles and photographing in 10 different countries showing the world, in particular the “first world,” what those less fortunate endure on a daily basis.

For his second stop on this 50 day tour, Stanton arrived in Jordan. Most photos taken in this Middle Eastern country were taken in the refugee camp Za’atari. A caption accompanies these photos with the person’s story or a simple phrase that was said. In many cases, nothing rings more true than the idea that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Syrian refugees have come into Jordan and made Za’atari a make-shift home after fleeing their country due to the 2011 civil war outbreak. The Syrian Refugees website stated that the United Nations report from earlier this year declared that Za’atari is the second largest refugee camp in the world, with 80,000 refugees, making it the fourth largest city in Jordan.

Pictures that Stanton has posted while in Jordan show life in the camp, both the hardships and trials, but they also demonstrate that these displaced Syrians are trying to make a new life.

A photo of a man was posted just of his face with a slight smile. Under the photo was his story. He was taken by officers at a checkpoint in Syria and beaten. The only way to end the torture was to say that he murdered eleven soldiers, for which he was cast into prison. This refugee said, “But I never killed any soldiers. I never fought anyone. I’m a good person. I have a very sweet heart,” and still begging for belief in his innocence said, “You believe me when I tell you this, don’t you?”

Another picture is of a mother and a son on a couch and told of the day they decided to leave Syria: the day his brother was murdered.

While pictures of individuals and their stories show the pain, anguish and fear these refugees have been through, Stanton also highlights the good, simplistic things of life: a woman who joked with him for taking so many pictures and a pair of children- one in a wheelbarrow, while the other pushed- trying to get to their grandma’s house.

Through the good and the bad, these photos show just how strong and resilient the human spirit truly is.

– Kori Withers

Sources: Syrian Refugees, Humans of New York, Facebook: Humans of New York
Photo: NYTimes

photographing poverty
With the recent announcement of Brandon Stanton’s (Humans of New York) 11 country United Nations Global Tour, the power of photography and photographing poverty has become a topic of discussion.

Often international charities use pictures of ill children in order to garner sympathy and donations, but is this the proper way to illustrate the lives of these people? In many ways, by photographing the most at risk, usually the most empathetic women and children, photographers minimize the spectrum of people shown and the dialogue produced.

While many photographers are well-meaning, the photographs highlighting illness or famine dis-empower the subjects. The pictures only show a second in their lives and disregard other circumstances.

Of course, these pictures are often the call to action that many people need. With the visuals of the effects of malnutrition and stunted growth, people are more likely to donate than they would be just seeing words alone. Motivated by the faces of young children and poor women, people tend to donate to the international charities.

Many of the pictures are staged so that the subject appears as poor and at risk as possible. Of course, these pictures dubbed as “poverty porn” are not reflective of all of the afflicted demographics, nor of all their needs.

Usually, context or back stories are absent. Instead, these pictures stand alone and are meant to speak for themselves. Contrary to many other photographers, however, Stanton generally interviews his subjects and delves into their past. Having already traveled to two of the eleven countries on his list (Jordan and Iraq), Stanton’s pictures demonstrate the various walks of life and the circumstances behind them.

Instead of just showing a tragic picture, Stanton’s captioned photos create a dialogue surrounding poverty, illness and aid. Instead of telling people what is needed and to whom they should donate, Stanton’s photography empowers the subjects and offers a microphone to ask for what they need.

– Kristin Ronzi

Sources: Unite for Sight, Humans New York
Photo: BigStory

humans of new york
Supported by the Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group, photographer and founder of Humans of New York Brandon Stanton has taken his portrait project to a global scale.

Stanton will be photographing people in ten different countries and says that, “It would be rather foolish to claim that these portraits and stories somehow represent ‘the world’ or humanity as a whole. The point of the trip is not to ‘say’ anything about the world. But rather to visit some far away places, and listen to as many people as possible.”

Stanton explains that one of the main objectives of the tour is to raise awareness and prompt action to complete the Millennium Development Goals, to be accomplished by 2015. The Millennium Development Goals include the following:


To eradicate extreme hunger and poverty


To achieve universal primary education


To promote gender equality and empower women


To reduce child mortality


To improve maternal health


To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases


To ensure environmental sustainability


To enhance and increase global partnership for development

Stanton began his journey in Iraq and has since traveled to Jordan. He will venture next to the Democratic Republic of Congo, then travel to Kenya and then his trip will lead him to Uganda. His only stop in Europe will be in Ukraine. He will then go to India, following which he will be in Vietnam, and then he will photograph in Ecuador. His last stop as of now is in the Amazon – but at the end of the tour, if he has the time and resources, he will go to photograph in El Salvador.

Stanton remarked on the Humans of New York website that on his trip, “In addition to telling stories of individuals, we hope this trip may in some way help to inspire a global perspective, while bringing awareness to the challenges that we all need to tackle together.”

-Jordyn Horowitz

Sources: United Nations, Humans of New York, ABC
Photo: The Epoch Times