Whether or not you find Brandon Stanton’s work exploitive, it’s hard to argue with the empathy empire he has built with Humans of New York. The photography project, which began in 2010, sought to catalog the inhabitants of New York City. “Somewhere along the way, I began to interview my subjects in addition to photographing them,” Stanton explains on his Facebook page, which boasts well over 9 million likes. His posts garner tens of thousands of comments and shares.
It’s easy to see why New Yorkers would clamor to his camera for their taste of Internet fame. But that isn’t quite what these unknowing pedestrians got when a man claiming to be Humans of New York came up to them on the street. Sadly, rather than being muses, they became patsies in a hilariously twisted prank.
The only thing that’s sadder than our thirst to be photographed? How willing some of them are to invent tragic stories to accompany their image.
Screenshot via prankdialz/YouTube