During a photography option I introduced my class to Humans of New York, a powerful book that chronicles the stories of thousands of New Yorkers. The author Brandon Stanton interviews and photographs locals on the street, at the park or bus stop, he asks to take their photograph and as he does, he asks a series of deep and increasingly more personal questions. After a week of learning about Stanton’s process, and practicing, my students came up questions that delve into who we are at our core, then my grade 8s took to the halls and did what Stanton does. They asked their peers one on one, questions like,“what’s your greatest regret?”; “what’s your greatest struggle in life.”; “what is the one thing you are most proud of.” and, an amazing thing happened, they were open and honest in their response.
These questions evoke emotions connected to important life moments and as one question leads to the next my students found themselves in a meaningful exchange like never before. Their conversations led to photos that made me see students, that I see everyday and get to know them on a level not easily achieved in any other way.
They weren't opening up to each other because they were talking with their best friend but because they asked questions with emotional meaning, that brought that person back to a memory or moment in time.
To learn more about Humans of New York please check the link below and visit the blog.
- Brandon Stanton’s process for questioning and photographing his subject - See You Tube video below...
Nick Moskaluk (@Moskatuk) teaches grade 8 math/science at Arbour Lake School, is an enthusiastic soccer player and recovering political junkie.