Humans of New York is an independent photography project run by Brandon Stanton. He is a young American who runs the photoblog on the social media websites Tumblr and Facebook whose original goal was to photograph 10,000 New-Yorkers and provide a powerful snapshot of their personal story. His quite vibrant blog has now gone overseas with Stanton taking trips to Pakistan and Iran with the goal of providing inspiring and heartwarming stories from people in parts of the world that to the Western world are mostly seen as ‘faceless’. What I mean by the term ‘faceless’ is that the Western media tends to group up all of the ‘remaining countries’ and classify them as one. Edward Said argues that “the Europeans divided the world into two parts; the east and the west or the occident and the orient or the civilized and the uncivilized”. The traditional Western media doesn’t allow an emotional connection with the people of these parts of the world because we just simply do not know enough about them. This can then cause cultural ignorance in forms such as cultural appropriation.
Staton’s recent travel to Iran shown through his photo blog, not only puts a face and personality to many Iranian people, but also shows us that they are as human as the Western population “Like all the stories that Humans of New York bring us, the tales from Iran make for beautiful reads. From wise little kids to proud new parents to old couples still in love, the stories will touch a chord with anyone who reads them.” In one portrait of this young Iranian women, the caption underneath says “she plans to be an actress”. Without this quote that came from this young woman, many people that are consumed by the Western media would just see an ethnic woman in a headscarf from somewhere in the East. The simplification of the Western mind by the Western media inhibits us from recognising people from these “parts of the world” that are not the West. Through these very intimate portraits being taken, we are allowing ourselves to make a personal connection with them. Stanton’s blog is the perfect example of how breaking down the cultural barriers is not as hard as it is commonly perceived to be. Through Statons project, we are learning about quite a foreign cultures way of life. We get a deeper insight as to why they dress and live in certain ways and why it means something to them when to us, it doesn’t mean anything.
Kohli, A 2015 “These Stories of the People of Iran Will Make You Happy and Sad”, NDTV http://www.ndtv.com/offbeat/these-stories-of-the-people-of-iran-will-make-you-happy-and-sad-1211228
Said, E 1994 “An Introduction to Edward Said’s Orientalism”, Vintage http://www.renaissance.com.pk/febbore2y6.htm