Do you ever wonder if your photography could have an impact on the world outside your door? Something more than creating memories or even an income? Meet amateur photographer Brandon Stanton, a man who started out with a simple photoblog and ended up changing the lives of hundreds of students:
Four years ago, unemployed and new to photography, Stanton started out with the simple mission of photographing New Yorkers on the street. Once he combined the photos with quotes and anecdotes folks were telling him, his blog, Humans of New York, gained instant popularity.
On January 20, 2015, when Stanton featured a Brooklyn student named Vidal on his blog, the post generated over a million likes in a very short amount of time.
“Who’s influenced you the most in your life?”
“My principal, Ms. Lopez.”
“How has she influenced you?”
“When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter.”
Stanton decided he need to go meet the principal, Ms. Lopez, who Vidal said is the most influential person in his life.
Ms. Lopez is dedicated to her students, and when Stanton saw her compassion and determination, he decided to help her raise money to send the students of her school on a field trip to Harvard every year to show them how far they can go—that they belong there. In just four days, they’d raised over $1,000,000 on an indiegogo page for the cause.
“I almost see the money as a by-product of what is happening as millions of people learn the story of this school.”
It just goes to show that you don’t need to be a professional photojournalist to bring awareness to an issue or make a difference in the world. All you need is curiosity, compassion, and most of all, a willingness to follow your passion.
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