Humans of New York is the internet at its best. It started as a blog in 2010 but has become a multiplatform empire that spans Facebook, Instagram, and two bestselling books. Brandon Stanton photographs people on the street—initially just in New York, now worldwide—and posts the shots with a quote or vignette about their lives and livelihoods. But it's more than just online voyeurism; it's a vector for charity, commerce, and genuine human connection.
In October, for example, Stanton featured a septuagenarian named Stephanie Johnson who once performed burlesque under the name Tanqueray. What began as a fun romp through her colorful life pivoted to become a fundraiser to cover the urgent needs of a person who has lived her whole life on the edges of society. The campaign elicited a multimillion-dollar outpouring of support, and Johnson has chosen to donate whatever remains to a charity for homeless children after she is gone.