Once Upon a Time: Unedited Significances

city points
one of the shots from my camera during our little adventure! check out my flickr to see more

So, this is a long-overdue post.

It’s actually been floating around, unfinished, in my drafts since February 27th, which was a time that I probably could’ve been writing more but grew to be too lazy/unmotivated to do so.

In my last post, I mentioned this guy named Brandon Stanton. He runs this photography-centered website/blog called Humans of New York, and on it, he posts photos of strangers that he meets on (primarily) the streets of New York City. Along with these photographs are captions that range from a few words to multiple sentences long, and each caption tells a unique story or perspective on life.

On February 27th of this year, I was lucky enough to go see Brandon Stanton give a live talk in San Francisco. Through my photography class at school, a bunch of us took a train into the city and walked from the station to the auditorium where he was talking.

He talked about a lot of different things, like how he got into photography, how his work gradually gained popularity, his opinion on condescension… the list goes on.

Since I’m a geek and I love remembering little things that I think have significance, I jotted down a bunch of things that he said during his talk. Even though some of the things that follow might not make a lot of sense (keep in mind, this is straight out of my notebook- I didn’t edit or add anything!), I think they’re worth sharing.

  • remove expectations: first thing he said, he talked about how he was nervous and how he was removing any expectations the audience may have early on so that no one would be too surprised if he stumbled or messed up while talking
  • quiet moment of authenticity: the keystone of HONY, he looks for this when he talks to people- every person has a meaningful story, it’s just a matter of finding it
  • learning the hard way —> how not to make people extremely nervous: basically, taking photos of random strangers can be scary and it took practice
  • The Oatmeal: haven’t looked this up yet, but I think it’s a blog and Brandon said it makes him laugh (note from future Arya writing this blog post: I looked it up, check it out here)
  • Robert Carrow: he wrote a series of three really fat biographies and won two Pulitzer prizes- Brandon loves him
  • “I like it…how could I like it more” —> ways to make things worth doing
  • Lynden Johnson: “the most interesting president”
  • “being treated like a 17th century man servant”: the type of rejection that is the most bothersome is the condescending kind
  • Vivian Maier: amazing street photographer who basically kept her photos secret and died before her work was found one day in a storage box and then published
  • work hard rather than just promote: if you focus on putting the work into whatever you’re doing and take yourself seriously then people will take you seriously too
  • be nervous but do it anyway: the best things in life may come out of the things you’re scared to do, so what do you have to lose, just do the thing.

Overall, it was a really cool experience to see Brandon Stanton talk live about his passions, interests, and how he followed them- it definitely got me thinking, and hopefully these little snippets provoked some thought in you, too.


  1. Meghna

    I absolutely love Brandon!! I wasn’t lucky enough to go watch him live but I watched his talk online at Harvard… he’s an amazing person and HONY is such a good way of sparking a sense of humanity in people. You picked up really good tidbits, as well!

    I also wanted to let you know that your blog is so great. I’ve just stumbled across it but everything you write is so authentic and easy to relate to… looking forward to reading more posts!


    • thatnerdyartaddict

      Thanks so much!! I just got back to a wifi connection and seeing this comment totally brightened my day 🙂 Looking forward to seeing posts from you as well, I loved your post on feminism related things.


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