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Humans of New York Shifts Focus to Pakistan

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There's a reason why Humans of New York is one of the most popular photography pages on Facebook (currently sitting at 14 million likes and 3.6 million Instagram followers), and it's not just because people want to stick it to DKNY. Since being started by photographer Brandon Stanton in 2010, the photoblog has beautifully illustrated the fact that anyone you stop on the street has an interesting story to tell.


In this way, the blog's strong ties to social media promotion make a great deal of sense. Social media represents the front line of the connected world, and Humans of New York actively promotes global connectivity and understanding. It doesn't begin and end with New York, though. Stanton has taken pictures in other places as far flung Vietnam and Uganda, while also travelling to some places at deeply significant times. He was in Boston mere days after the 2013 marathon bombing and when he arrived in Iraq with the UN, the Mosul dam was being taken by ISIS (which was a total coincidence, but even still).


This month, Stanton has travelled to the Northern Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, a mountainous, historically fascinating part of the world, home to the ancient Silk Road city of Gilgit. In the 10 days since he arrived, Stanton has photographed (and interviewed) farmers, students, children, an Austrian mountain climber, an arcade owner, the self-proclaimed 'happiest man in Pakistan' and likely many more yet to be published.



The response on the Facebook page has been massive. Every image shared from the Pakistan trip thus far has pulled in at least 2,000 shares, but a large portion of them have raked in as many as 15 to 20,000, some have even reached 30,000. Remember, that's shares, not likes. The story is the same on Instagram, but it doesn't end there.

"There were no paved roads here when I was a boy. We had to walk for 3 days to get to places that only take 2 hours now. There was never any money for school. We had no wealth or property. Beginning at six years old, I cleaned dishes at a restaurant until 9 pm. Then I would go to sleep and start again. All my money went to my parents. I'd hear stories about cities and airplanes, but they seemed like fairy tales. I'd dream of visiting these places, but before I could get too far, I'd be hungry again. So I grew up thinking that the entire world was like our valley. I thought all children lived like me. Then one day when I turned 16, I had the opportunity to visit to the city of Gilgit. I couldn't believe it. I saw a boy eating at a restaurant with his father. He was my age. He was wearing a school uniform. I broke down in tears." (Hunza Valley, Pakistan)
A photo posted by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

Pakistani residents have been very vocal about their appreciation of Stanton's work there. In the Express Tribune, a Pakistani international newspaper, a writer named Lyla Qureshi wrote a touching open letter to Stanton outlining the value of the work he's been doing there. She highlighted the fact that Pakistan receives such overwhelmingly negative press in the mainstream global media most of the time and that by sharing these stories with his massive social media following, he is helping push back against such unfair representation.


The kind of positivity spread by this kind of work is vital. The top comment on one of the photographs is from an Indian man who says that he grew up with an ingrained dislike for Pakistan, but that seeing Stanton's pictures had made him realise just how similar India and Pakistan really are. He closes the comment out by expressing his hope that one day the two nations will work out their differences. Humans of New York is simply one of the best things to come out of the social media revolution, give it a follow if you haven't already.

A photo posted by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on


Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Humans of New York Shifts Focus to Pakistan Reviewed by Callum Davies on Monday, August 10, 2015 Rating: 5
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